Please note this post is an update to our April 28 post.
The Biden administration has made the deployment of solar energy
a key component of its plans to battle climate change. From
utilities to investors to installers, deploying solar energy at
such a broad scale presents a number of new and exciting growth
opportunities for companies and associations operating across
numerous industries. Yet seizing on these opportunities also
requires navigating potential risks. In particular, elements of
U.S. trade policy potentially work at cross-purposes with the
administration’s efforts to encourage the rapid deployment of
Currently, virtually all solar cells (the key components of
solar modules) and most solar modules (also commonly referred to as
panels) installed in the United States are imported. The United
States currently does not produce any meaningful quantities of
cells, and U.S. module capacity is sufficient to supply only about
a third of U.S. demand. Although the administration and Congress
have been considering ways to incentivize U.S. solar cell and
module manufacturing, for at least the immediate future, the
broader solar industry will be heavily reliant on imports to meet
demand and to meet the administration’s clean energy goals.
Several kinds of tariffs potentially apply to imports of solar
cells and modules, and importers of these products must also be
cognizant of and comply with statutory and regulatory provisions
prohibiting the importation of merchandise made in whole or in part
with forced labor. In this post, we provide an overview of the
trade regulatory landscape affecting imports of solar cells and
modules, summarizing the main tariffs on solar cells and modules as
well as trade issues regarding forced labor concerns in China
affecting imports of these products.
I. Tariff Environment for Solar Cells and Modules
The normal duty rate, or taxes imposed upon importation, for
solar cells and modules is zero for imports from nearly all
countries. However, a number of special tariffs apply to imports of
certain solar cells and modules. This is especially true for
imports from China, which is the largest global producer of solar
cells and modules. Chinese products are subject to a number of
overlapping and cumulative special tariffs. We summarize the
special tariffs applicable to solar cells and modules below.
A. Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders on CSPV Cells and
There currently are three sets of antidumping (AD) and
countervailing duty (CVD) orders on crystalline silicon
photovoltaic (CSPV) products. CSPV products are the predominant
type of solar cells and modules globally. Application of these
duties depend on where the CSPV products are produced. The CSPV AD
and CVD orders do not apply to thin-film products.
i. CSPV Cells, Whether or Not Assembled into Modules, from
China (Solar I)
The U.S. Department of Commerce (“Commerce”), the
agency responsible for calculating the level of AD and CVD tariffs
imposed, issued AD and CVD orders on CSPV cells, whether or not
assembled into modules, from China in 2012.1 These
orders are often referred to as the “Solar I” orders, as
they were the first set of AD and CVD orders. These orders apply to
CSPV products if the cell was produced in China. This means that
solar modules produced in a third country with a Chinese-origin
cell are subject to the orders.
The Solar I AD and CVD rates (or tariffs) vary by supplier.
Current AD rates range from zero to nearly 240 percent, while
current CVD rates range from roughly three percent to more …….