This week’s Commerce resolution on antidumping photo voltaic panel tariffs might make or break the U.S. photo voltaic trade


“We’re both going to be shedding a whole bunch of workers or hiring a whole bunch of workers.”

These are the one two avenues, mentioned Troy Ochoa, VP of photo voltaic building for Wanzek Building, throughout a press convention in the present day a couple of coming resolution from the Dept. of Commerce on antidumping and countervailing (AD/CV) duties on photo voltaic panels imported from Southeast Asia. The division is contemplating 50 to 250% tariffs on imported photo voltaic panels from Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, efficient as quickly as this Thursday, Sept. 30. With 80% of U.S. crystalline silicon photo voltaic module imports within the first half of 2021 coming from these three international locations, many large-scale photo voltaic installers and builders have said that this week’s Commerce resolution is a drastic fork within the highway for the U.S. photo voltaic trade and its 1000’s of jobs.

In August, a gaggle of nameless U.S. photo voltaic producers — calling themselves the American Photo voltaic Producers In opposition to Chinese language Circumvention (A-SMACC) — filed a petition with the Dept. of Commerce asking for an investigation into Chinese language silicon photo voltaic panel manufacturing corporations working in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam as a option to keep away from AD/CV duties.

Credit score: American Vitality

Photo voltaic advocacy group SEIA held a press convention in the present day to debate the possibly devastating results to the U.S. photo voltaic trade if the Dept. of Commerce permits for extra tariffs on panel imports from the three international locations.

AD/CV duties have been in place in opposition to Chinese language photo voltaic producers since 2012. Any silicon photo voltaic imports from China include an additional tax from the Dept. of Commerce. Some Chinese language corporations, in a attainable try and keep away from paying the tax (in keeping with the petition), have moved parts of their manufacturing capability to different Southeast Asian international locations.

A-SMACC is asking the Dept. of Commerce for a deeper look into particular Chinese language corporations working within the three talked about international locations:

  • Malaysia: JinkoSolar, LONGi (and associates), JA Photo voltaic
  • Thailand: Canadian Photo voltaic, Trina Photo voltaic, Talesun Photo voltaic, Astroenergy
  • Vietnam: Trina Photo voltaic, Canadian Photo voltaic, Sunergy, Boviet Photo voltaic, GCL, LONGi (and associates), JinkoSolar

The petitioners need further tariffs starting from 50 to 250% on imports from the above corporations, efficient instantly. In line with SEIA, a brand new investigation into the AD/CV duties would instantly disrupt the U.S. provide of photo voltaic modules, because the three international locations accounted for 59% of the nation’s complete provide of crystalline silicon photo voltaic module imports.

With no home silicon photo voltaic cell producers, and home module manufacturing capability at lower than 8 GW, the USA depends on photo voltaic module imports to fulfill demand. The nation is anticipated to put in 30 GW of photo voltaic in 2022 and 32 GW in 2023. With out provide from Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, SEIA is predicting installs to fall to lower than 26 GW in 2022 and 18 GW in 2023 — or a lack of 18 GW over the subsequent two years.

One motive behind A-SMACC’s petition is that additional tariffs would enhance home manufacturing, however with the time and monetary investments wanted to begin home cell manufacturing and develop module meeting capability, set up numbers will endure. And any drop in anticipated photo voltaic installations would put the nation additional behind in assembly the Biden Administration’s aim of 80% clear vitality by 2030.

“Rising the U.S. photo voltaic provide chain is of crucial significance,” mentioned Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA. “Lengthy-term coverage that drives photo voltaic demand and incentivizes a wholesome manufacturing sector can drive a robust U.S. manufacturing renaissance. Nevertheless, pointless and dangerous tariffs will not be the answer.”

Imported photo voltaic panels are already being affected, with SEIA reporting that corporations are being pressured to make use of current module stock to make up for import shortfalls, which has raised the prices of tasks by 4 to twenty%. Some EPCs are already noticing module shortfalls.

George Hershman, president of Swinerton Renewable Vitality, participated in in the present day’s press convention. The nation’s largest large-scale photo voltaic EPC employs about 3,000 workers nationwide and Hershman mentioned all of these jobs are at present in danger.

“Module deliveries to the U.S. have frozen. This isn’t one thing sooner or later. Simply the submitting of this petition has primarily frozen the market,” he mentioned. “We are able to’t get module producers in the present day to signal buy orders that we have to ship tasks within the near-term due to the priority of whether or not there shall be a 50 to 250% tariff when these modules hit the port. No person can take that price threat, so it’s primarily stopping tasks going ahead.”

Hershman said that Swinerton is on contract for 4.5 GW of photo voltaic installations in 2022 and these tariffs have put “virtually 100% of that work” in danger. “To say that this can be a small problem or a nuanced problem is clearly an understatement. This has vital threat to our enterprise and people 1000’s of workers. That is about whether or not or not we rent 3,000 or 4,000 workers to deploy the tasks we’ve beneath contract or we begin shedding workers in 30 days,” he mentioned.

Ochoa said {that a} present Wanzek challenge in Texas has already been delayed as a consequence of module corporations stopping product shipments due to the impact of tariffs that would drop this week.

“[At the Texas project], two weeks in the past, it was introduced that modules are being 5 months delayed,” he mentioned. “That’s a whole bunch of jobs. These jobs have now been delayed for 5 months, and the potential for longer. If you kill tasks, you kill jobs.”

Final week, 200 American photo voltaic corporations despatched a letter to Commerce Sec. Gina Raimondo outlining the affect these duties might have on the livelihoods of 231,000 U.S. photo voltaic employees and on the nation’s efforts to struggle local weather change. The signatories embrace producers, builders, installers, financiers and repair suppliers from throughout the photo voltaic provide chain. SEIA is asking the Dept. of Commerce to dismiss the petition.

The trade is anticipating a call from Commerce as early as Sept. 30.

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