Survey shows impact on solar companies following US trade probe into imports

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Posted on April 07, 2022 by Dave Kovaleski

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Since the US Department of Commerce launched a circumvention case against imports of solar products from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, about 75% of solar companies have said panel shipments have been canceled or delayed.

This statistic was revealed in a survey of more than 200 solar companies by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The survey found that 90% of companies surveyed said the Commerce Department’s actions had a severe or devastating impact on their bottom line, including all domestic manufacturers. Additionally, two-thirds of companies said half of their workforce was at risk and one-third said their entire workforce was at risk.
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“This investigation is based on a baseless business case that hammers the solar industry in real time and undermines our efforts as a country to fight climate change,” said SEIA President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper. “We urge the administration to expedite this investigation and end this unnecessary impediment to our clean energy future.”

The bypass investigation was opened on March 25. To prove circumvention under US law, the work of creating a product in a particular country must be minor and insignificant. The countries listed in the petition have invested billions of dollars in establishing a manufacturing base. The manufacture of solar cells and panels is a large operation that will take years to develop in the United States. A recent report by Wood Mackenzie found that bypass petitions could eliminate 16 gigawatts of panels from the US supply chain, or two-thirds of all panels installed by the United States in 2021. SEIA estimates that the industry solar will lose 70,000 of its 231,000 jobs thanks to this petition.

Currently, legislation is being considered in Congress that would establish a solar manufacturing supply chain that would make the United States less dependent on products from overseas. Currently, the industry is facing supply chain challenges and price increases. In 2021, solar equipment costs rose 18% and the threat of earlier trade actions led to project delays and cancellations, according to a report by SEIA and Wood Mackenzie.

“We said tariffs are the wrong way to encourage manufacturing and that it will take time and political commitment to move manufacturing to the United States on the scale needed,” Hopper said. “The countries named in the petition have been reliable trading partners, and we need their products, at least in the short term, as we fight to establish a sustained and powerful manufacturing presence here in America.”

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