Solar power was highlighted in last week’s report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as one of our best tools for reducing energy sector emissions. But to avoid catastrophic climate change and achieve the Biden administration’s carbon reduction goals, we must accelerate the pace of solar development. We have been headed in the right direction; solar deployment in the United States was expected to be up to 21.5 GW in 2022 despite supply chain issues, surpassing last year’s record.
Now is not the time to slow down solar deployment, but that’s the threat of the circumvention case that the Department of Commerce is considering on imports of crystalline silicon PV modules and cells from Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. An affirmative ruling by Commerce on the petition would have a devastating effect on this growing industry.
In fact, the effects are already being felt. Because Commerce could impose tariffs retroactively, many manufacturers have already halted shipments to the US. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) heard alarming news from the industry in an overwhelming response to a survey distributed last week.
Solar projects rely on long-term policy certainty, so even the threat of a change can have profound impacts. Early responses from the survey show that real damage to the industry is happening now as a result of the petition. At stake are tens of thousands of jobs, billions of dollars, and our nation’s ability to address climate change. SEIA estimates that the petition could result in the solar industry losing 70,000 of its 231,000 jobs.
An affirmative ruling by Commerce on the petition would not boost US manufacturing. Previous trade cases have led to job losses but have had little to no impact on domestic manufacturing, which is a long game. It takes years to get a manufacturing plant approved and running, and the solar industry, which is already dealing with ongoing supply chain issues, needs a steady supply of modules now.
While most solar jobs are in installation and related areas, not in manufacturing — which is being increasingly automated — it is indeed worthwhile to support domestic manufacturing to reduce our reliance on imports. But this petition is not the answer. Instead, we should pursue effective ways to promote domestic manufacturing that include long-term federal investment. The solar industry is currently pushing for legislation to substantially increase solar deployment while also establishing a strong solar manufacturing supply chain. That’s where we should be putting our effort as an industry.
The solar industry has enough obstacles without creating new ones. Despite the unprecedented nature of this threat, as a larger company, Standard Solar is in an excellent position to weather this storm. We have experienced numerous ups and downs and will survive. But we are only as strong as the industry as a whole. We should all be working together to make our industry more robust, not taking actions that could tear it down.
Commerce should be part of that effort. The Department’s mission is “to create the conditions for economic growth and opportunity for all communities.” Instead, by considering this petition, Commerce is contributing to the single biggest threat the growing solar industry has ever faced.
Even the COVID pandemic did not devastate the industry as this case could, but the petition’s threat is compounded by coming at a time when solar is already strained. Supply chain and trade issues slowed installation in Q4 2021, resulting in 3GW less than expected in utility scale solar deployments. According to SEIA, even before this case, the nation’s module supply was expected to run at least 8GW short for expected growth and potentially 16GW short over the next few years.
Commerce previously ruled that a similar trade petition had no merit, so it’s unclear why it’s considering the current petition, which is based on the false claim that solar cell manufacturing is a minor or insignificant operation in the named countries. The Department has a choice now: move forward with a baseless petition that will result in massive job losses and set back our clean energy goals or fix its mistake by immediately issuing a negative preliminary determination. Speed is of the essence to reverse the harmful effects already being felt.
We need to deploy 70 GW of solar a year in the next few years to achieve President Biden’s climate goals; according to SEIA, we will fall short by 20 GW this year. It doesn’t make sense for the U.S. government to pursue an action that runs so contrary to its own goals.
Standard Solar stands with thousands of solar companies and hundreds of thousands of solar workers in calling on Commerce and the Biden administration to immediately put an end to this grave threat to the solar industry and allow us to proceed with accelerating the transition to clean energy.
Responses to SEIA’s survey on the petition can be submitted here.
Scott Wiater is president & CEO of Standard Solar.
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Take First Solar , America’s only profitable solar panel manufacturer to date, is reeling under the heavy Chinese dumping of underpriced solar products ranging from panels to racks, etc.. Analysts explain that First Solar still lack pricing clout because of the Chinese. Stepping back from all this, I look at rooftop solar where customers pay around $4 per watt while First Solar is hard pressed to collect only a quarter per watt for its solar panels that go mostly to utilty scale solar farms. If you look at those extremes, you will find why there are still squabbles happening around here.. I mean whehter we really need our own domestic solar panel manufacturers to supply solar panels or do we just let the Chinese supply everything lock and barrel here directly or indirectly whatever.. It is one thing to court solar customers and an entirely different thing to do something for shareholders of First Solar , for instance.. I dont think that anybody can pooh pooh off shareholders just because they ask for it (risk) and capital gains.. There is so much more to it than this.. Is it a good policy to outsource nearly everything we need for our renewable energy programs and leave crumbs for First Solar and Sunpower (money losing solar panel manufactuer). I can understand the rooftop solar installing business’s concerns despite the fact that they continue to charge $4 a watt against only $1 a watt for utilty scale solar farms .. Community solar charges around $2.50. The fact that rooftop solar companies caters mostly to the upper middle households that are paying top tier prices for kilowatthours and they benefit savings on their utilty bills along with generous federal tax credits.. I dont see anything goingto the lower income households eventhough they do have rooftop solar themselves but they dont benefit equally yet pay same price for their rooftop solar anyway.. There is so much inequities among the household classes from trailer parks all way to McMansions.. So all the whinings coming from this article seems to solve nothing even if the Dept of Commerce dropped the concern if at all. We are just bouncing inequities alll around the same, it seems.. The only winner continue to go to rooftop solar companies who caters to the wealthy clientele for the most part.. yes, I read articles about community solar and utility scale solar contracts . I take everything under consideration and I still think it is still unfair to so many if too many of us .. Another thing is I find it somewhat numbing that they are still not addressing the end of lifecycle for solar panels moslty made in China at all. Old solar panels are already starting to pile up in the scrapyards and dumps . First Solar for one has complete in house recycling program for all of its customers from day one.. I read articles about Frist Solar collecting old or borken solar panels and remanufacture them anew.. I call this sustainable .. as opposed to those rooftop solar panels that is still non recyclable or non existent programs of accepting them if any.. Sure, NREL is studying ways to recycle those Chinese panels without any certainity that it will be successful commercially. I think that rooftop solar customers will find themselves having to foot the bill for removal of the old or broken panels for recyclablity similar to other household appliances.. It is still not a perfect world whatsoever!? First Solar only manages to capture only 5% of the global solar panel production which I think is so lopsided against those provisions mentioned above.. Shareholders can help First Solar grow much faster if the government start to recognize First Solar as the best model for solar panel manufacturing . I understand politics and how they try not to curry favors to anyone but they are actually currying favors to the least desirable sectors of the solar energy industry anyway. Maybe there a need to balance against the Chinee dumping of solar panels even if it will mean some hit on payrolls so be it. First Solar and new competitors will appear to generate jobs and provide right kinds of solar energy products through investments by shareholders that will be more powerful than what our government can provide. I also recommend that our government stop issuing tax credits to wealthy households who install rooftop solar that already save them from payingtop tier prices to utilities that are often four time as high as the baseline tier for kilowatthours.. If this is not poltiics, then it must be corruption or what ?
“We need to deploy 70 GW of solar a year in the next few years to achieve President Biden’s climate goals; according to SEIA, we will fall short by 20 GW this year. It doesn’t make sense for the U.S. government to pursue an action that runs so contrary to its own goals.
Standard Solar stands with thousands of solar companies and hundreds of thousands of solar workers in calling on Commerce and the Biden administration to immediately put an end to this grave threat to the solar industry and allow us to proceed with accelerating the transition to clean energy.” . .
Most solar companies lack sustainable policies on services and goods.. First Solar accepts own solar panels for reyclability.. do you want more dumps to pop up to accept mountains of Chinese solar panels at end of lifecycle because they are not sustainable at all. ! most solar companies are not cost effective becuase rooftop solar is most expensive of all. We aer slower approaaching our climate goals that way.. this is why we are 20 GW short .. every year.. We could have met that with First Solar growing much faster here.. We chose jobs over more cheaper and recyclable solar panels.. We let Chinese double dump panels here and with nowehere to dispose of them later on!
We need terawatts more of solar and wind to displace fossil fuel productioin and there is not enough rooftops to handle it all. it is pointless to argue about land use .. but we can use hillslopes to install solar.. Everyone think that solar can only be installed on level land which is not ture or that workers are too lazy to hike up and down the hillslopes facing to the south ? They prefer to use forklifts for lifting panels and tools around ?
We are too mechanuized that we are softbodies already! and fatbellies.
During the horse buggy days when automobiles made a rapid transformatoin of our antiquated means of transporation , do you know why it happened? it is the horse manure all over the city streets with so many people already crowding in the growing cities.. Horse manure is today’s equivalent of carbon !! We were so anxious to replace horses with piston engines and tailpipes.. Fast forward to today when our cities is already choking with polluting emissions at street levels yet we are not as anxious to transofrm our current means of transporation and more imiportantly the type of fuel/energy from hay – oil -solar/wind.. We seems to think that we can keep our dirty emissions along with renewables only on rooftop solar alone.. We still have no climate change goals at all with all those fossil fuel production still at full speed .. without declining by one million barrels daily yet!! I thought that we could halve our global fossiil fuel productin with our renewable energy goals which still has not happend and not for next several decades.. Do we have the luxury of time left at all? ths is the question you need to answer here!
so is it about Chinese aspired jobs or about climate change itslef?
“We seems to think that we can keep our dirty emissions along with renewables only on rooftop solar alone.. We still have no climate change goals at all with all those fossil fuel production still at full speed ..” . . .
That’s not what I’m seeing. I’m reading about a lot of coal plants being retired early because the cost of solar and wind energy has dropped so dramatically and so many gigawatts being installed all over the country. I agree there’s still a long way to go and one way to accelerate it is to use every available panel and not to put tariffs on them and kill the progress we’ve been making. If domestic panel makers want to compete, no one is stopping them. If China and other countries are subsidizing panels, then lets subsidize our domestic manufacturers at the same rate. But don’t kill the big solar energy expansion we’ve had in this country with backward, damaging tariffs.
We are not making enough progress probably because of our reliance on Chinese panels in tandem with excessive stress on rooftop installments at much higher costs.. We have limited budgets to help those solar guys.. What better way to stretch our solar budget than to go solo on utility scale only? Those rooftop costs are already paid for with elimination or avoidance of the highest tier prices tacked by local utilities by focusing on heavy household users . They are on their own. We are not responsible for their heavy uses.. They dont need federal energy tax credits and they are already well off on their own.. It is too impossible to help lower income people obtain rooftop solar as they aer not heavy users so it is more cost effective to go utility scale solar farms and or community solar projects with government assistance .. Still , you have to take in account the sustainable practices of manufacturing solar panels which there is none from China… Our biggest domestic solar panel manufacturer First Solar has already established sustainable practices of manufacturing solar panels.. while your Chinese solar panels will still be dumped in the landfills. or repurposed in third world nations . This is probably the biggest reason behind the anti dumping concern from China. China dont do thin film solar panels similar to First Solar’s.. We will probasbly see more illegal dumpings of old Chinese solar panels like we already do with old appliances etc.. Do you want that? I dont think so! What good is jobs if it is not sustainable, anyway? First Solar could have 100 GW manufacuring capacity by now if not for Chinese dumping and unsustainable solar panels themselves..
We are probably raising bogus issues like land use for solar panels as a back stop against Frist Solar for no good reason and it was probably the same bunch of people who prefer rooftops who raise that bogus issue about land use.. so to slow First solar’s sustainable manufacturing practices down.. Polticis and corruption are invisible lies that average people cannot see clearly . So when it comes to question of climate change and carbon input for renewable energy projects, nothing beat First Solar so we owe it the most to First Solar to grow much faster by stopping Chinese dumping unsustainable solar panels just for the sake of saving our rooftop jobs.. This is not good policy in my opinion inlight of climate change .We need someone to make the “top” decision on the best avenue to push our renewable goal forward the fastest and most sustainable!
First Solar deserves to be the next Tesla of solar panels.. First Solar has the right practice of manufacturing solar panels and jobs can come later.. if this will have to mean a temporary and painful reset for those rooftop installers.. The wealthy households can support those rooftop jobs if they wish to.. I am not going to stop them paying top prices for those unsustainable solar panels . without federal energy tax credits as well. Lets put our governmetn money in the right place without any poltical bent involved..
The rate our rooftop iinstalling is way too slow that it is already backward so tariffs will probably mean moer shift to utility scale solar farms that will speed up our solar growth.. The roofop solar guys are in “no hurry” to solve climate change while maximizing as many dollars per watt for themselves.. wihtout any regard to the question of worsening climiate change.. We still have not cut down our oil/gas productioin globally at all let alone coal which is not enough to address climate change..First Solar was forced to shut down its utilty scale solar development division because of widespread resistance against more use of land for utility scale solar farms.. So yoru arugment about backward damaging tariffs seem to hold no water here.. WE are not even successful at all! lets change our solar model of manufacturing which First Solar remains to be the best in the whole manufacturing .. It is too bad that First Solar’s panels cannot be used for rooftop installments because of cadmium used in the panels.. this is unfortunate but this should not mean that we must not levy tariffs against Chinese solar panels that are unsustainable in terms of lack of recyclability or questionable costs of recycling that type of panel known as silicoin crystaline . First Solar has its own recycling system in house that are prepaid by customers to accept all old Frist Solar panels.. It is a successful model that we are still working so hard to slow down in order to portect our rooftop installing industry and jobs that are already backward and obsolete.. We will hire them away from them and put them working in far more utiilty scale soalr farms that will not be backward and damagaing at all. I dont understand how you can disagree with my views as backward and damaging becuase we will move much faster in that direction instead of your rooftop job direction that is unsustainable.. and will host a new list of consumer grievances like about lack of recyclablity ,illegal dumpings of old panels by roadside like those old sofas you see all the times.It is already too late to get serious about climate change , yet people like you seems to be unable to understand the whole big picture taken altogether ! We need to cut down oil/gas production along with gas flares still wasting away by millions of barrels daily andn we cannot do it with Chiense solar panels at all! and with rooftop solar stilll at $4-6 per watt installed. We cannot.. We are already backward before we start talking about tariffs as damaging and backward that is really not ! you are holding us backward without realizing it !
In addition, I fail to understand what they really mean by our nation’s renewable goals .. I think the most accurate yardstick to measure against our renewable goals is the decline in fossil fuel productioin .. It still has not happened at all! We continue to produce 100 million barrels plus worldwide daily.. I dont know if it is fair to blame it on the expensive rooftop solar because this is where most jobs are created . Still, rooftop solar is the weakest method to use to reduce our global fossil fuel production . It is important to start counting and keep track of our daily fossil fuel production worldwide along with flare gas wasting away altogether . The way I see it myself is that utility scale solar farms and to lesser extent our smaller and about twice as expensive community solar projects. So the argument that we need to protect our most ineffective and costly rooftop solar installment jobs matters more than cutting our fossil fuel production just do not wash with our other far more important goal … reducing climate change. Also , rooftop solar jobs are more carbon intensive than utility scale solar farms because of excessive and unnecessary car trips made by contractors to complete every “tiny” rooftop solar installment moslty under 10KWH as compared to megawatthours per community solar project and tens of megawatthours for utility scale solar farms that take advantage of lower carbon inputs..
As we face climate change that keep growing while we continue to make too much unnecessary carbon inputs to support our questionable renewable goals tells me that we are still led by “biased” policymakers who may still harbors investments in fossil fuels as well and hope to keep them separate without any conflicts of interest being taken out of closets for everybody to see and realize how phony our renewable goals really are all along??
All it boils down is whether climate change really matters or not and that jobs still matter moer than climate change? I think that it will just end up as a zero sum game anyway but with climate change receding as we shift toward more utilty scale solar farms and community solar projects away from carbon intensive rooftop installments.. The jobs will be mostly transferred from here to there where it will grow much quicker and better able to turn around cliimate change in the future.. I am somewhat puzzled by lack of discussions about the critical need to keep cutting down global fossil fuel production instead of letting it keep growing along with renewable energy .. This doesnt make any sense to me.. We re not aggressive enough on climate change at all.
Isn’t reduction of fossil fuel productin the key to solviing climate change ? We keep talking about injecting carbon dioxide into the grounds which is unrealistic.. in my opinion..
Are we still so soft on fossil fuel industries because of jobs??
Someone has to stand up and say that cliimate change is more critical than jobs. Eventually , we will replace lost jobs with new jobs later.
Do you follow me or what? It is the climate change.. that matters the most , I believe.
We have to cut down oil and gas productioin and with flare gas all along!
I think this is what it takes to lick climate change! Is there other better ways like leaving our cars on our driveways more often which is a good way too. but unrealisitic..
It took 20 years for First Solar to grow to 16 gigawatt manufactuer at end of 2023 that could easily be 100 gigawatt by now or far higher . Is it because that we are more interested in more job creation over more renewable energy for same cost?
It is not cheap to fix climate change so therefore we have to choose capacity over job.
We also have to cut fossiil fuel production through most cost effective renewable energy possible not just jobs.. We probably have to ask renewable leaders whehter they still own fossil stocks or not.. as it is a clear conflict of interest and they have no business running renewables .
I feel somewhat foolish about posting so many comments here because climate change is a big topic that forces me to cover so many bases … I wish I could summarize it better .. thank you for understanding and listening .. I know you do and I mean well.
15 years ago, it costs about $10 to manufacture a solar watt on the panel .. the panel could yield only 100 watt each.. Fast forward to today.. it costs less than 50 cents or even 25 cents to manufacture a solar watt on the panel .. the current panel can yield about 500 watts although it is now about twice as large as the older smaller panels , but still yields five times as many watts per panel.
So back then, it costs about same to install a solar watt as to manufacture a solar watt.. Fast forward to today,, it is different. it cost far more to install than to manufacture a solar watt. This is how we have utility scale solar farms because it is cheaper to install than on anybody’s rooftop. rooftop solar installers took advantage of cheaper solar panels by not charging lower as should overall. This is one reason we are not able to achieve our climate goals as fast as expected. now they are complaining about the survey on anti circumvention petition as threatening to their incompetent business practices..
Let me give you an example.. I was interested in buying a solar powered attic fan ten years ago when solar cells was much more expensive . It costs over $200 for a 20 watt attic fan with solar Now it still cost the same despite the falling solar cell prices .. It should be about $125 or so.. by now.. This is not happening.. They pocketed all the savings from cheap Chinese solar cells without passing down savings to consumers. Same thing still happens to solar rooftop installers despite discounts and advertisements.. they still fail to pass down savings. Only the most wealthy households realize maximum savings from rooftop solar because they are the heaviest electricity users often well into 100’s of kwh daily as compared to average Joe’s household typicaly around 25 Kwh. daily.. not much savings yet both pay the same to the rooftop solar installers who still fail to pass down savings..
This is what makes me favor utilty scale solar farms over rooftop solar . There is more benefits to livestock who graze under the solar arrays . The grass stays greener longer throughtout the warm seasons less evaporation. Also for water reservoirs covered with solar panels to reduce evaporation. this is where we can hit more birds with fewer stones..
there will stil be rooftop solar jobs around that still caters to the wealthy households where there is still plenty of them .
I keep hearing that it is all poltics when it comes to anit circumvention issues.. Local politicans are apathetic and so backward thinking..
Maybe it really boils down is whether we still need 10 people to replace a light bulb instead of two or what? Itis jobs and politics against anti circumvention issues.. Workers dont care as much about climiate change as climate scientists do.. Can you try to get my drift? We need more domestic manufacturing jobs instead of more rooftop installing jobs. This is what anti circumvention petitionis all about. There will be winners and losers, of course and we will be way ahead with anti circumvention over the times. We produce less than 5% of our solar panels which strikes me as somewhat reckless for depending too heavy on China for most of our solar panels. I wonder if we are being misled by people who are more interested in stopping our climate goals without realizing taht they are actually wearing sheep fleeces themselves. can you see ?
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