US To Investigate Use Of Chinese Materials In Imported Solar Panels

The US Commerce Department’s announcement last week that it would investigate allegations that solar panel makers in Southeast Asia are using Chinese-made parts and evading US tariffs has raised alarm bells about trade policy and environmental. The department announced on March 28 that it would investigate claims by California-based solar panel maker Auxin Solar that solar equipment makers in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam have close business ties with companies in China that They produce the raw materials and some solar energy components for panel assemblies. In 2011, the Commerce Department ruled that China was “dumping” solar panels on the US market, or pricing the panels below the cost of manufacturing. This forced American companies out of business because they could not operate at a profit while matching Chinese prices. In response, the Commerce Department imposed tariffs on Chinese solar panels of up to 250% of their selling price. The result was a rapid decline in U.S. imports of Chinese solar equipment, from $2.8 billion in 2011 to less than $400 million in 2020. FILE-A worker performs a quality check on a solar module product at a factory of a manufacturer of monocrystalline silicon solar equipment, in Xian, Shaanxi province, China, on December 10, 2019. In its complaint, however, Auxin points out that while imports of solar panels from China fell by 86% during that period, imports from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam increased by 868%. The company also presented evidence suggesting that during that period, exports of raw materials and solar panel parts from China to the four countries mentioned also increased. Investigation timeline In an emailed statement to , a Commerce Department spokesperson confirmed that the investigation had been launched, saying “Commerce will conduct an open and transparent investigation to determine if a circumvention. This investigation is only a first step: there has been no determination.” He also reported that for the moment there will be no additional measures. The Commerce Department said it would complete its preliminary investigation within the next 150 days and make a final determination within 300 days. So far, the response from the four affected countries to the department’s announcement has been limited. The Thai government announced that it had filed a formal letter of complaint with the agency. VOA has contacted US-based government representatives from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam to request comment for this story. None had responded at the time of publication. Divided U.S. Solar Companies The Auxin complaint and the Commerce Department’s decision to pursue it have exposed a major gap within the U.S. solar industry. Many of Auxin’s competitors, who appear to suffer from the same disadvantages that the company describes, have spoken out against the Commerce Department’s actions, as have trade groups in the industry. In a joint op-ed, Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute; Heather Zichal, executive director of the American Clean Energy Association; and Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said the future of solar energy in the United States would be bleak if tariffs were applied to solar panels from the four countries mentioned. A production operator checks a panel at the SolarWorld solar panel factory in Hillsboro, Ore., on January 15, 2018. “Make no mistake: If the plaintiff succeeds, solar power will become two to three times more expensive than just a year ago, which will set back our efforts to achieve independence and put at risk hundreds of thousands of American jobs and the renewable energy goals of the Biden administration,” they wrote. “If these tariffs are applied, we expect that much less solar generation equipment will be installed in the US during the four years of the Biden administration compared to previous administrations,” they added. In a statement, Auxin CEO Mamun Rashid called the trade groups’ warnings “classic scaremongering tactics” and said, “We are grateful that Trade officials recognized the need to investigate this widespread dumping and how it continues.” hurting US solar producers. Dilemma for the Biden administration The solar panel case presents a dilemma for the Biden administration because it conflicts with two of the president’s priorities: ensuring a level playing field for American manufacturers and leading the country to a carbon-free energy future. carbon. The relationship between US and Chinese solar panel manufacturers is complicated. For one, foreign-made solar panels with Chinese parts compete directly with panels made in the United States. However, US solar companies rely on some of those same Chinese companies for raw materials and components. Industry officials have warned that even the possibility of sanctions being imposed on panels imported from the four named countries would see the launch of solar power products in the US slow dramatically due to uncertainty over costs. This, in turn, would make it harder for the Biden administration to meet its climate goals. Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen said the Biden administration should look at other ways to support US solar companies. “I’m disappointed the administration is launching this investigation, because we should repeal existing solar fees, not explore the possibility of adding new rates,” he told The Hill newspaper on March 28. “Direct assistance to America’s solar manufacturers would be far more meaningful to our domestic solar industry than a trade investigation or tariffs that will only increase consumer costs, threaten good-paying jobs and take us further away from our climate goal,” he said. the senator Connect with the ! Subscribe to our channel Youtube

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