Solar module shipments to the U.S. appear to have been detained by Customs and Border Protection agents as part of an enforcement action aimed at banning the import of solar equipment containing components provided by a Chinese company suspected of using forced labor.
Roth Capital Partners said that JinkoSolar had around 100 MW of product detained by border agents. The analyst said that Jinko may not ship hundreds of megawatts of capacity to the U.S. as long as the customs inquiry is in process.
Canadian Solar also was said to have had four testing samples detained, and Trina Solar may have had six testing samples detained in July.
Action taken on June 24 by the Biden administration included a “Withhold Release Order” by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) against Hoshine Silicon Industry Co. Ltd., a company located in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The Withhold Release Order instructs personnel at all U.S. ports of entry to “immediately begin to detain shipments containing silica-based products” made by Hoshine and its subsidiaries.
The CBP acted in response to what officials said were credible reports of forced labor being in the solar supply chain in the Xinjiang region of China. The report that modules actually were being detained was among the first indication that enforcement action may be under way.
A spokesperson for JinkoSolar said the company would not comment on the report. Requests by pv magazine USA for comment from Canadian Solar and Trina Solar were not immediately returned.
Philip Shen of Roth Capital Partners said that “almost any module coming to the U.S. cannot yet prove it does not have Hoshine silicon metal.” He said that traceability protocols do not yet go far enough up the supply chain. In addition, it may take 6-12 months to develop the traceability capability up through silicon metal or quartz. Shen said that solar cells may be manufactured in Southeast Asia, Europe or the U.S., “but the challenge is that 95-99% of the world’s wafers come from China.”
In a related move, a group called the American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention filed petitions requesting that the Department of Commerce investigate what it said are “unfairly traded imports” from Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The group said in a trio of petitions totaling more than 600 pages that circumvention of antidumping and duties on Chinese solar products has “hobbled the U.S. industry, eviscerated our supply chains, and put our clean energy future at risk.”
Timothy Brightbill, a partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm Wiley Rein, declined to identify the companies that joined in filing the petitions. In an email, he said that “Given the Chinese control of the entire solar supply chain, retaliation is likely if their identities are revealed.” He said that in such situations, the companies who make up the coalition “are allowed under U.S. law to remain confidential.”
The organization said that while Chinese companies “now almost exclusively” export to the United States from Southeast Asia, “the vast majority” of manufacturing, research and development, and capital investment remain in China. The group called for duties on Chinese solar products to be extended to what it said were “circumventing entities.”
The group asked the Commerce Department to investigate the following companies:
Malaysia: Jinko Solar Technology Sdn. Bhd.; LONGi (Kuching) Sdn. Bhd. and its affiliate Vina Cell Technology Company Limited and Vina Solar Technology Company Limited; JA Solar (Malaysia) Co., Ltd. or JA Solar Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.
Thailand: Canadian Solar Manufacturing (Thailand) Co., Ltd.; Trina Solar Science & Technology (Thailand) Co., Ltd.; Talesun Solar Technologies Thailand or Talesun Technologies (Thailand) Co., Ltd.; Astroenergy Solar Thailand Co., Ltd
Vietnam: Trina Solar (Vietnam) Science & Technology Co., Ltd.; Canadian Solar Manufacturing (Vietnam) Co., Ltd.; China Sunergy Co., Ltd. in Vietnam; Boviet Solar Technology (Vietnam) Co., Ltd. or Boviet Solar Technology Co., Ltd.; GCL System Integration Technology (Vietnam) Co. Ltd.; Vina Cell Technology Company Limited and Vina Solar Technology Company Limited; LONGi Green Energy Technology Co., Ltd.; JinkoSolar (Vietnam) Co., Ltd.
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