Toledo Solar, located at 1775 Progress Dr. in Perrysburg, makes roughly 1 million solar panels per year. The company manufactures 100 percent of the panels in its factory with a supply chain sourced exclusively from North America. The recyclable, thin film solar panels produced by Toledo Solar can be found on American homes and businesses throughout the country.
Aaron Bates is the founder of the company that launched in mid-2019, beginning production in 2022. Currently, Perrysburg is its only manufacturing plant, but the company does have sales offices in California, New York, Connecticut, Michigan and several other states, Bates said. The company has 40 full-time employees.
A long history
Bates said he founded Toledo Solar “through hard work, luck, and support.”
“I spent my entire adult life in manufacturing, first working in factories and then investing in and financing the United States based manufacturing. Solar seemed like a good challenge to take on. In 2018-2019, we believed that United States solar manufacturing would begin to come back on shore. Meeting Jim Appold, Dr. Al Compaan and Dr. Mike Heben helped inform my partners and me that CdTe (cadmium telluride) manufacturing in Toledo, Ohio was a viable path to take. The Ohio Federal Research Network facilitated our meeting with the University of Toledo. Folks like Jim Appold taught us so much about the solar industry in the United States and Toledo, Ohio,” Bates said.
“Fundamentally, we believe in clean energy, locally manufactured in the United States, and in the superior solar technology that is CdTe semiconductors.”
Toledo Solar has a long history in solar and cadmium telluride manufacturing, which is used to make solar cells. The company’s founding chief technology officer, Compaan, began his research with Harold McMaster while a professor of physics at the University of Toledo in the early 1990s.
“The support of this rich history from UT, combined with the regional expertise in glass manufacturing and this type of cadmium telluride (CdTe) manufacturing here in Northwest Ohio, made all the difference,” Bates said. “Without this region’s technical genealogy in solar/glass manufacturing, we wouldn’t have been able to start Toledo Solar.”
In order to speed up growth, President Biden has used the Defense Production Act to help expand the country’s solar panel manufacturing, Bates said. The President is also increasing the amount of solar panels it buys. “The important big-picture message is that the administration supports a stronger focus on the domestic production of solar panels.”
However, Bates said Biden’s two-year stop on tariffs for China “undermines American solar manufacturing and harms the environment since it continues to allow the importation of products from China’s state-subsidized solar cell manufacturers.” Bates continued saying that China has a number of abuses in their solar energy policy including using coal and forced labor.
“This creates national security and economic and environmental problems for the rest of the world,” Bates said. “During these critical times in the world regarding our energy and environmental future, other countries are leading the way in holding countries like Russia and China responsible for their Energy policies, and the United States must catch up.”
As an ownership group. Toledo Solar is made up of several different groups of people from various backgrounds, including, legal, engineers and marketing. They own or have interests in several companies in the United States, but Bates’ main focus is on Toledo Solar and its continued growth.
“We believe that Toledo Solar is the first of hopefully many investments that we can be a part of here in the Toledo region,” Bates said.