As of today, the Section 201 tariff exemption for imported bifacial solar modules has been repealed — with the panels now subject to a 20% penalty, the same tariff imposed on almost all imported crystalline silicon solar panels since 2018. Here is the U.S. Court of International Trade’s ruling.
The tariff is scheduled to drop to 18% in February of next year.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is opposed to these tariffs. In a recent press briefing, Abigail Ross Hopper, CEO of the trade organization said, “We are asking President-elect Biden to remove those tariffs a year early.”
Hopper said that signals from the Biden transition indicate an understanding of the impact of tariffs upon the industry. She notes that domestic solar manufacturing has seen five solar companies started in the U.S. and that repealing the section 201 tariff might cause U.S. facilities to fail. “It won’t come as a surprise to domestic manufacturing that those tariffs will end. It is not working.”
She said there are ways to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. without being reliant on tariffs and cited a recent whitepaper with goals of 100 GW of domestic manufacturing capacity for renewable energy.
The plaintiffs may file new lawsuits directly challenging Trump’s proclamation, according to Reuters. SEIA’s general counsel John Smirnow, said the trade group might sue over the ruling.
Historically, import tariffs have been a blunt instrument with a track record full of unintended consequences. Certainly, module tariffs contribute to the U.S. having some of the highest utility-scale solar costs.
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