Tuesday Dec 06, 2022

Tariffs on solar panels threaten Biden’s climate change goals – Yahoo New Zealand News

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An ongoing Department of Commerce investigation into whether China is circumventing tariffs on its solar energy products is slowing the expansion of solar power capacity in the U.S., according to industry and outside experts.

“In the blink of an eye, we’re going to lose 100,000 American solar workers and any hope of reaching the president’s clean energy goals,” Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energies Industry Association (SEIA), said in a statement late last month.

On March 25, James Maeder, the deputy assistant secretary of commerce for anti-dumping and countervailing duty operations, announced an investigation into whether crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand or Vietnam that use components from China violate tariffs on Chinese solar imports. Pending the outcome of that investigation, tariffs could be applied — even retroactively, for recent purchases — to solar panels from those four Southeast Asian countries.

Solar panel installers anxious not to run up what could potentially be a huge tax bill are therefore avoiding buying panels from those major suppliers and are often unable to fulfill orders.

A worker assembles a solar battery at Irex Energy JSC’s manufacturing facility in Vung Tau, Vietnam, in July 2019. (Yen Duong/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

As a result, on April 27, after surveying its members on the effect the investigation is having, SEIA cut by 46% its forecast for new solar installations in 2022 and 2023. A May 10 analysis by Rystad Energy, an independent energy research consulting company, found a potentially even more dramatic contraction in the solar industry, concluding that 64% of the 27 gigawatts of new solar capacity that was to be installed in this year is in jeopardy.

With new tariffs potentially being imposed in August, clean energy advocates and experts say the problems may only grow worse in the months ahead. “Imports have fallen off, projects are being canceled, and projections of growth are being revised radically downward,” David Roberts, host of the “Volts” podcast, said Wednesday. “The tariffs could be anywhere from 30%-250%, which would radically change the economics of big solar projects, and, if applied, will be retrospective over the last two years, which means even existing contracts are in jeopardy. The uncertainty has cast a pall over the entire sector.”

President Biden is publicly committed to expanding solar capacity as quickly as possible to combat climate change. The White House has issued press releases and fact sheets touting its administrative moves to encourage the installation of wind turbines and solar panels on federal lands and waters, and the president has proposed tens of billions of dollars in subsidies for rooftop solar panels in his budget reconciliation package.

In June 2019, while running for president, former Vice President Joe Biden walks past solar panels at the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative in Plymouth, N.H. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

The administration is caught between its climate goals and desire to protect American manufacturers from unfair trade practices. If China can produce cheaper solar panels, with or without a government subsidy, it benefits American consumers and helps speed up the replacement of fossil fuels that cause greenhouse gas emissions. But allowing a rival to dominate the supply chain of growing U.S. energy sources could be risky, as Europe has seen with its reliance on Russian oil and gas. Every president wants to create domestic manufacturing jobs, which …….

Source: https://nz.news.yahoo.com/tariffs-on-solar-panels-threaten-bidens-climate-change-goals-174747459.html

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