Survey finds Commerce’s anti-circumvention case cuts Biden’s solar goal in half


The Department of Commerce announced its plans last month to investigate alleged antidumping and anti-circumvention violations in four Southeastern Asian nations that are suspected of shipping Chinese-made solar goods that are dodging tariffs. Tariffs levied on goods found to be in violation would be as high as 250% of the value of the goods and would be retroactive to all goods shipped April 1 or later. The four nations are responsible for 80% of the US supply of C-si solar panels, which is particularly important to the utility-scale sector.

The American Clean Power Association (ACP) began surveying major US solar developers two weeks after Commerce made the announcement of launching the investigation, and found, perhaps with little surprise, that the impacts of this case have had a devastating effect. The survey was a sample of numerous top utility-scale developers representing over 150 active projects.

Solar, across all sectors, is tasked with installing about 81 GW through the end of 2023 to stay on track with federal goals. The survey respondents have led ACP to estimate that 47% of that goal will be compromised by the investigation of a federal agency, in direct contrast to publicly state goals of the White House.

The investigation has led to an estimated $30 billion in lost economic investment, and billions more in lost contributions to local communities, landowners, and philanthropic endeavors, said ACP.

Prior to the investigation, market researchers projected utility scale C-si solar to contribute 17 GW of solar in 2022 and 20 GW in 2023. Now, at least 65% of those projects were reported to be at significant risk of cancellation or delay.

The most common issue already being reported is a lack of module availability.

With this comes an estimated job loss of 38,000 American jobs. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) estimates this number could be as high as 70,000 jobs. ACP said this case will also likely lead to energy bill increases for Americans, as utilities and energy purchasers replace their planned solar resources with higher-cost fossil fuel sources of energy.

“The results from this study are more than just numbers on a page. Behind each data point are proud men and women that power clean energy in America, who are rightfully questioning why President Biden’s own administration is imperiling their livelihoods. President Biden and the Department of Commerce must swiftly dismiss this inquiry for what it is – a self-serving attempt by one lone company to game the system to the detriment of the domestic solar industry.” Heather Zichal, CEO of the American Clean Power Association. 

The energy storage industry is expected to get hit by this investigation, as well. Today, a large number of utility scale solar projects are co-located with battery energy storage, and ACP estimates as much as 50% of the utility-scale storage market will be similarly at risk of delay or cancellation.

SEIA recently released a survey of 600 or more solar businesses on the same subject, and found similar damning results. In a statement, SEIA said that the “baseless petition will make it impossible for the solar industry to meet President Biden’s climate goals”.

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