Dozens of solar suppliers had composed an open letter in February urging the new US president Biden to cancel the solar tariff that was increased by the Trump administration during 2020, and let the ill-fated bifacial solar off the hook. However, it may not be as easy as it seems judging by the current status.
The CEOs of renowned solar companies, including Clearway Energy Group, Lightsource BP, 8minute Solar Energy, and EDF Renewables, composed a joint letter to Biden during February that urged the new US president to revoke the changes that former president Trump had applied on Section 201, as well as the tariff on bifacial solar that received a bump up in 2020, in the hope of abolishing this “punitive and inconsiderate” policy.
The Trump administration announced the Section 201 during February 2018 for the purpose of protecting the US solar industry and promote industry reflux, and imposes 30% of tariff on 2.5GW of imported solar modules and cells, before an annual diminishment of 5% within the succeeding four years. The tariff was expected to reduce to 15% in early 2021, though the administration had elevated the figure to 18% during October 2020, and officially cancelled the tariff exemption on bifacial solar. The higher cost of bifacial solar had previously received the eligibility of “tariff exemption”, though the exemption will result in a sizeable increase in imported bifacial solar products, which may compete with US-made products, thus it was once again incorporated into the list.
These industry leaders believe that Trump’s policy in increasing tariff has not only assimilated bifacial solar into the tariff list, but also escalated the tax rate on the 4th year for Section 201, let alone the profound impact that the clause has inflicted on the job market of the solar industry, as well as the severing of the tool used to battle climate change. 62K job opportunities can be created without the implementation of these policies. Abigail Ross Hopper, CEO of SEIA, commented that solar contracts worth “several billions of US dollars” are at risk due to the latest adjustments in tax rate.
Hence, these industry leaders have placed the hope on the new US president Biden, who is a strong advocate that focuses on renewable energy and climate change, and commented that an eightfold increase needs to be added on the installed capacity of renewable energy in order to achieve the target of 100% zero carbon by 2035.
However, as indicated in the documents submitted to the US Court of International Trade by the new administration, it seems that Biden is on the same page as Trump. The documents from the US Department of Justice pointed out that the joint complaint from the leaders of the solar industry do not contain “reasonable grounds” in supporting that the policy executed by the former president is in any way implicated with misunderstanding the relevant regulations, violation of conduct, or usurpation.
The US Department of Justice believes that Trump’s restoration on the tariff of bifacial solar was implemented through a legitimate exercise authority for the purpose of replenishing the loopholes exhibited in the protective measures of solar.
This specific document may have hinted Biden’s standpoint in solar tariff. Although the implementation of the unprecedented energy target requires additional solar power plants, as well as affordable solar panels and development cost, Biden had commented that the stabilization of the manufacturing position and the creation of job opportunities for the US are equally important.
Jeff Navin, co-founder of Advisory firm Boundary Stone Partners, pointed out that Biden will not necessarily oppose all subjects that are supported by Trump, thus the issue surrounding the solar tariff may be put aside indefinitely.
(Cover photo source: pixabay)