House of Representatives joins growing opposition to solar anti-circumvention investigation


The latest in a series of political and industry leaders calling for the Department of Commerce to swiftly end its investigation into the alleged anti-circumvention violations of Chinese solar panel exporters comes from the House of Representatives, as 85 members signed a petition to President Biden.

In the petition, the House expressed “grave concern for the economic and environmental impacts” of the inquiry, which could lead to tariffs on solar goods ranging from 50 to 250% or more. About 80% of the US supply of crystalline silicon solar panels comes from the four Southeast Asian nations that house operations under investigation.

In 2017 to 2018, similar inquiries resulted in major solar suppliers being issued tariffs exceeding 90%. The ones levied on Trina Solar were 92.5%, Risen Energy 100.79%, Canadian Solar 95.5%, Jinko Solar 95.5%.

This level of risk is untenable, and it has already led to widespread project cancellations and delays. This year’s probe has essentially halted utility-scale solar buildout, and the Solar Energy Industries Association cut its deployment forecast for the year by 46%.

The petition reads: 

A recently released survey of over 700 solar companies found that 83% of respondents were experiencing delays or cancelations from their CSPV suppliers. A project-level survey found that more than 50 gigawatts of new solar projects are currently canceled or delayed because of the Commerce inquiry. Modeling suggests that these cancellations and delays could cost the industry more than 100,000 jobs and increase CO2 emissions by an additional 364 million metric tons of CO2 between now and 2035, which is the equivalent emissions of 97 coal-fired power plants.

The petition continued that the signees are strong supporters of the domestic solar manufacturing sector, but that this inquiry would not benefit the industry, outside a few select firms. It noted that the majority of US solar manufacturing jobs are involved not in creating modules, but in producing mounting, racking, trackers, and other balance of system components, so the probe does little help to boost existing US companies.

The petitioners suggested that instead conducting of this investigation, which likely won’t meaningfully benefit domestic manufacturing, enacting legislation like the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act and a long-term extension of the solar investment tax credit would pave the way for a US supply chain.

The note concludes by commending President Biden for setting targets of 100% clean energy by 2035 and net-zero economy-wide emissions by 2050, but highlights the fact that the current investigations threaten to completely derail progress towards those goals.

“We therefore respectfully request that the Department of Commerce take steps to expeditiously reach a preliminary determination as soon as duly possible, and that this determination take into account the larger impact on American jobs and your administration’s ambitious climate goals, in so far as is possible under the law,” concludes the letter.

The complete document, signed by 85 members of the House, can be found here.

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