Questions Remain after Latest Trade Policy Twist for Solar Sector

The U.S. solar industry sees the positive from Biden’s tariff pause but wonders what’s around the corner.

Questions Remain after Latest Trade Policy Twist for Solar Sector

The U.S. solar industry has been suffering as supply chain bottlenecks brought some projects to a standstill. (Source: Shutterstock.com)

U.S. President Joe Biden’s move this week to waive tariffs on solar panels from four Southeast Asian countries for two years amid an ongoing probe brought some relief to the solar industry, but clouds haven’t cleared completely.

Uncertainty surrounding U.S. antidumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) continues to plague the industry during times when it feels as if everything that could go wrong has gone wrong, as Wood Mackenzie’s global solar research head Xiaojing Sun put it during the company’s solar summit this week. The most prominent challenge, she said, is the supply chain.

“Think about the past decade. Solar is the shining example of how renewable has become affordable. It gives people hope for the first time that renewable can become mainstream,” Sun said. “But I feel like in the past couple of months, solar is taking on a different role. It has become this canary in the coal mine of the U.S. renewable energy sector. … U.S. solar builders spend at least 50% more to procure solar modules compared to their Western counterparts like developers in Germany or Australia. And if this threat of AD/CDV materializes, even with low 40% rates, it’s still going to push solar modules to a level that we haven’t seen in a decade.”

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Velda Addison

Velda Addison is the senior editor of digital media for Hart Energy’s editorial team. She covers energy with a focus on renewables.