The dominant story in the US solar industry is the Department of Commerce investigation into alleged Chinese circumvention that could lead to heavy tariffs ranging 50-250% of the cost of polysilicon solar goods. About 80% of the US supply of polysilicon panels come from the four Southeast Asian nations that are suspected of harboring tariff-dodging Chinese goods.
The investigation has had nothing short of a chilling effect on the US solar industry, particularly at the utility-scale. Even before the investigation was formally announced, developer SOLV Energy CEO George Hershman commented, “deployment is frozen” due to the untenable level of risk placed by the investigation.
Congressman Scott Peters of California addressed the issue at the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on April 28, delivering the message to Secretary Jennifer Granholm of the Department of Energy (DOE).
“This case could cost us 100,000 American solar jobs and jeopardize our common clean energy goals,” said Peters. “Already 318 projects are being cancelled or delayed, and if the administration decides to impose tariffs, it could cause solar capacity to fall 75 GW short of the pace needed to reach the President’s solar goal.”
Rep. Peters went on to explain that solar panel supply is key to reliability in his state of California. Almost all new solar projects are paired with battery energy storage systems in the state, and without a panel supply, battery storage deployment is also compromised.
Peters added that in September of 2021, DOE released the Solar Futures Study which argued the US must deploy an average of 30 GW of solar capacity per year between now and 2025 to reach the President’s goal of having solar power 40% of nation’s electricity by 2035. The Solar Energy Industries Association said forecasts for 2022 and 2023 are being cut by 46% due to consideration of tariffs.
“Instead of doubling our solar deployment, we’re cutting it in half.” Representative Scott Peters of California
Rep. Peters then asked the council if the DOE was investigating the potential reliability and climate impacts of the tariffs.
“I share your deep concern about this,” said Secretary Granholm. “As you know, this decision is an adjudicative decision that rests with the Department of Commerce.”
“We sit here in the room the makes the laws,” replied Peters. “We’ve got paperwork that is in the way of policy now… this is the tail wagging the dog.”
Peters said he is fully supportive of the solar industry’s target of manufacturing 50 GW of domestic production annually by 2030. However, he added, even if the US was to pass the necessary incentives to expand manufacturing and offset imports, it would take five to ten years to scale up.
“Investing in manufacturing in the long run cannot be an excuse to stop solar deployment in the short term,” he said.
Sec. Granholm said that acceleration of domestic manufacturing is a key element of the DOE’s budget request. She agreed with Rep. Peters that short-term deployment goals are important as well, but that it is also important for the US not to buy circumvented goods or goods that have potential links to labor from the Xinjiang region of China. The region is under scrutiny for credible allegations of forced labor of China’s Uyghur population.
“We call it an existential crisis,” said Peters, “but we need to act like it’s an existential crisis. The fact that we have these laws that shoot ourselves in the foot and put our planet at risk is of great concern to me.”
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Ok we remove tariffs on Chinese solar panels.. then China invades Taiwan. then what ? Will we have to stop buying Chinese panels , ???? like what we did to Russians with oil, correct? your arguments are not solid long term or shaky!
What you need to focus on is to increase domestic solar panel manufacturing here.. which you never did! We already import panels from malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, etc that do not use Chinese parts.. They are not affected by tariffs.
WE will probably have to stop buying aluminium from China, too .. We never built a single new aluminium smelter here in past 35 years.. China built 40% of global aluminium smelters in past 20 years.. Will we stop buying Chinese stuff just because China invades Taiwan? Will we stop buying chips from TSMC ,too? We are powerless or what ?
What is left of our domestic manfuacturing capacities with different goods will reap obscene profits due to shortages as results of Chinese invasion of Taiwan if it happens. Aluminium already tripled price .. and can triple again if we still dont build more of our own aluminium smelters.
We are disinvesting in ourselves and will just shoot our feet all day!
Lets protect and help those that are still struggling to survive amid the constant onslaught of Chinese dumping of everyting in sight!
We are complaining about getting behind in our climate change goals simply because we are depending too much on China .. Our jobs are dependent on China and so on..
What are we really thinking or focusing on anyway? Just jobs that feed off China?
Ok, if you’re ready to tariff the Chinese panels then step up and get ready to pay a lot more taxes so the government can pay our domestic panel manufacturers the difference to make our panels as cheap as those from China. Otherwise, as we’re already witnessing, the solar installations we need to meet our goals will be destroyed, along with a hundred thousand American installer jobs. Citizens in this country can’t afford to live on what Chinese workers live on so I hope you’re ready to open your wallet.
Dan, evenwith tariffs, we will still install panels in utility scale solar farms and microgrids even faster and cheaper than rooftops. Our govt tax credit dollars will go much further. Rooftops make far more sense for those heaviest electricity users that probably use 100 KWH daily to power all the toys they have at home . Average Joes use probably 10-20 KWH and pay the lowest tier rates for electricity and won’t make as much difference on climate change as the heaviest highest tier rate users that will still save and get payback much faster without any need for tax credits. It make smuch more sense to build utilty scale solar farms . Over past 15 years, we are so slow with so many needless rooftop solar installments , now we are complaining.. We stil havent cut down natural gas / oil usage at all. We even block many community solar projects that would generate jobs.. now we are worried about lost rooftop jobs that cost too much in the first place. Solar energy is not pork barrel.. It is equivalent to war against climate change and oil dependence. Solar rooftop cannot solve nothing fast enough. even those rooftop workers still like oil , anyway.
Rooftop solar greatly helps to decentralize and reduce the need for more, larger, and expensive transmission lines. Rooftop solar, both residential and commercial, makes efficient use of existing space instead of purchasing and covering new land.
“Already, 1.3 million California rooftops host solar arrays, “supplying 9 percent of the state’s electricity in 2020, more than nuclear and coal put together,” said John Perlin, who advised on UC Santa Barbara’s first solar installations. About 1,700 of those rooftops are in Santa Barbara. With land scarce and the city mostly built out, rooftops are the best and only location for local green power” . .https://www.independent.com/2022/02/02/will-new-california-rules-destroy-rooftop-solar/ . . . “Study: California could get 74% of power from rooftop solar” . https://www.desertsun.com/story/tech/science/energy/2016/03/28/study-california-could-get-74-power-rooftop-solar/82360288/
The trouble with your view is that we are fast running out of time.. Rooftops take ten or one hundred times a slong to achieve our climate goals as large utility scale solar farms.. We have large wind turbine farms in a short time order and we learned that too many birds of prey get killed by the rotating wind blades.. This put a greater urgency on utility scale solar farms. Those rooftop solar installers seem to think that they have all the times to themselves without any mandate to complete our climate goal whatsoever.. I agree with land use issues to a point because it can still be done on land that will benefit others like agriculture or livestock for example. however , microgrids is just beginning to be accepted by more locals which was not true in the recent past .. I support microgrids as well. I also support rooftop solar especially for those very heavy electricity households that are being charged top tier rates by most utilities usually in the metropolitan centers as long as they dont receive federal tax credits .. I want to see our government concentrate tax credits toward the most productive solar businesses that are geared toward the climate goal instead of career long jobs as still favored by polticians who seem to forget about climate goal if at all.
Gina Raimondo should be sent to prison on the same grounds that Nazi leaders in Nuremberg were executed: just because you have your marching orders does not make you actions morally sound. Individuals are always accountable for their actions. The additional death and suffering that will occur if such tariffs were truly implemented, is tantamount to a form of indirect genocide, quite literally for populations vulnerable to climate catastrophe. The United States is the largest per capita emitter of GHG and it’s governing officials need to not get in the way of free market forces, at least, and especially on such obscene and recklessly self-interested grounds as the Auxin complaint…
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