The U.S. took additional measures to help shield the domestic solar manufacturing sector from what the Biden administration calls unfair trade practices by China.

This week, the Biden administration said it would eliminate a tariff exemption for imported bifacial solar panels, which are commonly used in utility-scale solar projects.

The White House also said it would end on June 6 the 24-month waiver on tariffs for certain solar panels imported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam as the U.S. ramps domestic solar panel production. In addition, the Department of Commerce is mandating that panels imported duty-free must be installed within 180 days to prevent stockpiling.

“The U.S. Trade Representative, the Department of Energy and the Department of Commerce will closely monitor import patterns to ensure the U.S. market does not become oversaturated and will explore all available measures to take action against unfair practices,” the White House said in a statement May 16.

Part of the U.S. efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions while creating jobs has been focused on the solar sector. And, incentives made available in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) have played a big part in many solar manufacturers’ decisions to expand in the U.S. as solar’s share of growth in U.S. electricity generation soars.

However, anticompetitive subsidization and trade practices in China has led to a dumping of “artificially cheap modules and components onto the global market and circumventing trade enforcement measures in an attempt to put other countries’ manufacturers out of business,” according to the White House.

The Commerce Department also announced it would take up an antidumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) petition filed recently.

The petitions concerning crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells were filed by the American Alliance for Solar Manufacturing Trade Committee, according to Washington D.C.-based law firm Wiley Rein LLP, which represents the group. The petitioning companies claim mainly China-headquartered companies operating in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam are flooding the U.S. market with panels believed to be sold at prices below the cost of production.

The actions by the Biden administration are intended to help strengthen the U.S. solar sector.

Here’s a look at other renewable energy news this week.


Clean Energy, Maas Energy to Build 9 RNG Production Facilities

Cows at the Del Rio Dairy in Texas where Clean Energy Fuels produces RNG. (Source: Clean Energy Fuels)

Dairy digester developer Maas Energy Works has partnered with Clean Energy Fuels Corp. to develop nine renewable natural gas (RNG) production facilities at dairy farms in seven states across the U.S., the companies said May 14.

With a combined herd size of about 35,000 cows, the facilities will capture methane emissions from manure using Maas Energy’s lagoon cover digesters to help produce up to about 4 million gallons of RNG annually. Clean Energy plans to use the RNG as transportation fuel for its network of RNG stations.

“If the markets for renewable fuels are clear and consistent, then American’s biogas industry will deliver,” said Maas Energy Works CEO Daryl Maas. “We will soon be capturing fugitive manure emissions and turning them into carbon-negative truck fuel with our partners at Clean Energy.”

Use of RNG, which is less carbon intense than fossil fuels, is seen as a way to help lower emissions. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, agriculture accounts for about 10% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., while transportation accounts for 28%.

Construction of the facilities is expected to be complete in 2026. The companies said they plan to construct the production facilities in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Nebraska, New Mexico and South Dakota.

Waste Manager WM Explores $3B Sale of RNG Unit, Sources Say

Waste management firm WM is exploring a sale of its RNG business that could be worth about $3 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Houston-based company is working with JPMorgan Chase & Co. to gauge interest from potential buyers, which could include energy companies and private equity firms, the sources said, requesting anonymity as the discussions are confidential.

WM is planning to offload the rights to develop RNG operations on 115 landfills that it owns, the sources said, adding that the company would retain ownership of the landfills. RNG is methane captured from biological waste and converted into electricity or fuel.

If the deal talks conclude successfully, it would mark one of the biggest asset sales in the nascent U.S. RNG industry. The largest sale was BP’s $4.1 billion takeover of Archea Energy in 2022.

“We are always looking for ways to maximize the value of our renewable energy business for our shareholders, which may range from organic growth initiatives to partnerships or monetization through a sale,” WM said in a statement.

JPMorgan declined to comment.

WM had planned to invest about $1.2 billion between 2022 and 2025 to grow the RNG business. The firm now wants to spend that capital in other areas, the sources said.

SunGas Renewables, C2X Form Green Methanol Partnership

GTI Energy spinout SunGas Renewables and A.P. Moller-Maersk-owned C2X have entered a partnership to jointly develop, own and operate green methanol production facilities in North America, according to a May 14 news release.

C2X, which also invested in convertible preferred stock issued by SunGas, is working to scale green methanol production for multiple industries. SunGas looks to develop projects and sell its gasification equipment systems to customers building and operating renewable fuels production facilities, the release states.

The companies said the investment will support the Beaver Lake Renewable Energy green methanol project SunGas is developing in central Louisiana. The facility will have a capacity to produce more than 400,000 tons per year of green methanol when it becomes fully operational in 2028.


NW Natural, Modern Hydrogen Startup Hydrogen Production, Carbon Capture Project

Natural gas service provider NW Natural and Modern Hydrogen are producing hydrogen and capturing solid carbon in Oregon as part of a three-year pilot project exploring potential hydrogen applications.

The hydrogen is produced via methane pyrolysis, which uses heat to separate hydrogen and carbon from methane. Generated at NW Natural’s Central Resource Center in southeast Portland, the hydrogen is blended with natural gas and delivered via existing infrastructure, NW Natural said May 16 in a news release.

As part of the process, solid carbon is collected and used to create Modern Hydrogen asphalt products, which are used in applications such as paving and road repair projects.

“Over the years, we have held to our core values of safety and service, while embracing new technologies and better ways of doing things,” said NW Natural CEO David Anderson. “Today we’re looking to renewable natural gas, clean hydrogen, carbon capture and other ways to decarbonize our system. People are eager for solutions that can be put into action today, and we’re proud to play our part.”

NW Natural and Modern Hydrogen recently marked the official unveiling of the project.

Cepsa Taps Thyssenkrupp Nucera as Preferred Electrolyzer Supplier

Spanish energy company Cepsa has selected Thyssenkrupp Nucera as the preferred supplier of a 300-megawatt (MW) electrolyzer for Cepsa’s green hydrogen plant in Spain.

The company plans to use 15 of Thyssenkrupp Nucera’s standardized scalum electrolyzer units with a capacity of 20 MW each, the electrolyzer manufacturer said in a news release May 13. The electrolyzers will be powered by solar and wind energy.

In addition, Thyssenkrupp Nucera will help in the design and engineering of the hydrogen plant until a final investment decision on the project is reached.

Cepsa plans to produce up to 47,000 tons of green hydrogen per year as part of a bigger plan—

Andalusian Green Hydrogen Valley—to develop 2 gigawatts of green hydrogen capacity in Spain by 2030, according to the release. The first phase of Cepsa's green hydrogen project in Spain is located at the company’s energy park in Huelva.


KeyState, CNX Bring Hydrogen Facility to Pittsburgh Airport

National Petroleum Council: A Realistic Path to Scaling US Hydrogen

Plug Power Secures $1.66B Conditional Loan Guarantee from DOE


US Issues Guidance Update for Tax Credit

The U.S. Treasury Department issued new rules on how clean energy project developers can qualify for a tax credit meant to incentivize the use of U.S. equipment.

The 10% domestic content bonus is in addition to a 30% credit for renewable energy facilities included in President Joe Biden’s landmark climate change law, the Inflation Reduction Act.

Treasury first unveiled guidelines for claiming the bonus credit a year ago, but project developers complained that the complex rules made it difficult to use.

To qualify, the IRA specifies that 40% of the cost of a project’s so-called manufactured products must be made in the U.S. Those products could include solar panels, inverters or battery packs. But determining the cost of labor and materials for products built with components from multiple suppliers—often in different parts of the world—proved challenging.

Under the new rules, the Treasury will allow project developers to use default cost percentages determined by the Department of Energy to qualify for the credit.

The Treasury said it was still considering additional rules that would help offshore wind developers qualify for the domestic content bonus. It is also evaluating ways to incentivize manufacturing of solar wafers, the building blocks for solar cells.

Qcells, a division of Korea’s Hanwha Corp. investing $2.5 billion in U.S. solar factories, said the Biden administration's measures were “critical to creating tens of thousands of jobs in America.”


Revolution Wind Reaches ‘Steel in the Water’ Milestone

Rev Wind Steel in Water
Rev Wind Steel in Water.jpg With the first turbine foundation installed, the Revolution Wind offshore project moves further into the offshore construction phase. (Source: Revolution Wind)

The first turbine foundation has been installed for the Ørsted and Eversource-owned Revolution Wind project offshore Rhode Island and Connecticut, according to a May 15 news release.

When the offshore wind farm becomes fully operational in 2025, it is expected to generate 400 MW of energy for Rhode Island and 304 MW for Connecticut.

“America’s offshore wind industry is scaling up, and the first steel in the water at Revolution Wind is a tremendous milestone for Rhode Island and Connecticut’s clean energy journey,” said David Hardy, Group executive vice president and CEO Americas at Ørsted. “We’re building on our successful track record with the Block Island Wind Farm and South Fork Wind, and Revolution Wind can generate more than four times as much power as those two projects put together, demonstrating the enormous economic opportunity of offshore wind.”

With the first turbine foundation installed, the project’s offshore construction phase moves forward with work to install the remaining foundations, two offshore substations, inter-array and export cables and wind turbines, the release states.

Spain’s Iberdrola to Triple Offshore Wind Assets

Europe’s largest utility Iberdrola will keep betting on offshore wind in the coming years, roughly tripling the value of its assets in the sector to 17 billion euros ($18 billion), Iberdrola Executive Chairman Ignacio Sanchez Galan told shareholders on May 17.

In the past couple of years, the Spanish firm has shifted its focus to upgrading and expanding power grids while taking a more selective approach to renewables that favors investments in offshore wind.

In the next three years, offshore wind projects will get more than 50% of the planned 15.5 billion-euro investment in renewables, under a new plan presented in March.

The company currently has a project in Germany and two in Britain–including a partnership with Denmark’s Ørsted—in operation. Including the partnership, the projects account for around 6 billion euros in investments.

It is now building projects in the U.S., Britain, France and Germany.

“Once finished, there will be 17 billion-euro assets in this sector, which also have guaranteed income,” Sanchez Galan said, since production is already sold through long-term contracts.

“Our commitment to offshore wind will continue,” he said.

Iberdrola is currently bidding for new offshore wind farm auctions in Britain and the U.S., the chairman said.

“We have recently been awarded a new project in Japan and an offshore site for future construction in Australia,” said Sanchez Galan, adding there was an “excellent outlook” for the technology.

Hart Energy Staff and Reuters contributed to this report.