Almost all U.S. solar companies expect ‘serious or devastating impact’ from anti-circumvention investigation

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The Commerce Department’s decision to open the AD/CVD investigation has been widely criticized by US solar developers. Image: Unsplash

More than 90% of respondents to a Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) survey said the U.S. Commerce Department’s (DOC) decision to investigate alleged anti-dumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) circumvention had a “serious or devastating impact”. on their business.

The survey of AD/CVD circumvention by solar makers in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam – which solicited feedback from some 200 US companies – also found that 75% suffered rollbacks or module delays as a result of the DOC’s decision.

“All market segments – residential, commercial, community solar and utility-scale solar – overwhelmingly reported devastating or severe effects from the survey,” SEIA said.

On March 25, a DOC team recommended that the department investigate whether imports of solar cells and/or modules from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam were circumventing tariffs on Chinese products.

The DOC will send questionnaires to companies in these countries regarding their shipments of cells and modules to the United States and the origin of inputs for these products.

The investigation could last up to a year and if the DOC rules in favor of the petition, tariffs of up to 250% could be applied to solar cells and/or modules originating in the countries in question and applied retroactively from of any date from November 4th. From 2021.

The decision was widely criticized by US solar developers and SEIA, citing a report by research firm Wood Mackenzie, said the petition could eliminate 16 GW of module supply from the US, the equivalent two-thirds of all modules installed last year.

“This investigation is based on a baseless business case that hammers home the solar industry in real time and undermines our efforts as a country to fight climate change,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of SEIA.

“We urge the administration to expedite this investigation and end this unnecessary impediment to our clean energy future.”

SEIA said that to prove circumvention under U.S. law, the “labor of creating a product in a particular country must be minor and insignificant” but that “the countries listed in the petition have invested billions of dollars to establish a manufacturing base”.

“Solar cell and panel manufacturing is a major and important operation that will take years to establish itself in the United States,” he added.

The trade body said the survey comes as the industry “fights for legislation that will dramatically increase solar deployment”, referring to US President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) ​​Act. More than 60 clean energy organizations have called for more progress on the law, which is currently stalled by opposition from Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.

On the employment front, two-thirds of companies surveyed said half of their workforce was at risk and a third of companies said their entire workforce was at risk . SEIA estimates that as a result of the petition, the solar industry will lose 70,000 of its 231,000 jobs.

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