Solar companies say new tariff proposal would devastate the industry

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According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, tariffs on cells and panels from Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia would have a "catastrophic effect" on the industry. These countries account for 80% U.S. panel imports. More than 190 U.S.-based solar companies wrote to Gina Raimondo, Commerce Secretary, urging her not to open a trade investigation. The Wednesday letter follows a petition filed by several companies in August with the Department of Commerce alleging that Chinese-based module and solar cell manufacturers are moving production out of China to avoid tariffs. The Department will decide by the end the month whether or not to open an investigation.

The letter stated that the proposed tariffs would have a devastating effect on the U.S. industry. They could be as high as 25% to 50%, and as high as 25% to 250%. SEIA estimates that the proposed tariffs would result in 18 gigawatts of solar deployment for the industry by 2023 if they are implemented. This is equal to the total number of U.S.-based solar installations before 2015. This represents a significant chunk of the anticipated buildout in the coming years. According to Wood Mackenzie, the industry will add 30 GW to solar power in 2022 and 33 in 2023. Analysts at Bank of America noted that there is significant uncertainty in the future. They believe that projects by US utility-scale developers could be delayed further due to increasing disruptions beyond poly [polycrystalline] or freight/logistics. Petitioners claim that most of the assembly for solar products imported into China from Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand takes place in China. Therefore, tariffs should be applied to these goods. SEIA disagrees, stating that significant work is done in China.