Three-quarters of the 200 solar companies surveyed by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) have either delayed or canceled solar module deliveries since the U.S. Department of Commerce initiated an investigation on solar modules imported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam for allegedly circumventing U.S. duties.
Last month, The Department of Commerce, based on the petition filed by the U.S.-based solar developer, Auxin Solar, had initiated a nationwide probe into crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules produced in the four Southeast Asian countries.
The survey conducted by SEIA is an early snapshot of the harm U.S. solar companies are experiencing because of the Commerce Department’s investigation, which includes residential, commercial, community solar, and utility-scale solar segments.
Following this investigation, more than 90% of the companies polled by SEIA have reported negative impacts on their bottom line. Two-thirds of the companies surveyed reported that half of their workforce was at risk and one-third of companies said their entire workforce was at risk. All of the domestic manufacturers that responded to the survey said this case would have a devastating or severe effect on their ability to operate.
The investigation impacts 84% of all U.S. solar module imports from four countries and half of all cells imported for domestic module production.
The companies surveyed expect damage across the value chain, with 100% of the domestic manufacturers in the survey expecting a devastating or severe effect on their ability to operate.
Source: SEIA survey report
The U.S. solar industry, which is already plagued by supply chain issues due to trade and rising prices, is still a few years away from building a robust solar manufacturing supply chain to end the reliance on imports from these countries.
According to a report released by SEIA and Wood Mackenzie, due to the rise in solar equipment prices by 18% in 2021, one-third of projects in the fourth quarter were delayed by a quarter or more, and 13% of expected 2022 projects were delayed by a year or more or were canceled outright.
Another report by Wood Mackenzie estimates that the circumvention petitions could eliminate 16 GW of panels from the U.S supply chain, which is two-thirds of all the panels installed in 2021. SEIA estimates that the solar industry will lose 70,000 out of its 231,000 jobs due to this petition.
“This investigation is based on a meritless trade case that is hammering the solar industry in real-time and diminishing our efforts as a country to tackle climate change. We urge the administration to expedite this investigation and end this unnecessary roadblock to our clean energy future,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, President, and CEO of SEIA.
In India, China has had the largest market share of nearly 90.14%, followed by Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore with 6%, 1.47%, 0.71%, and 0.65%, respectively. In the COVID-affect 2020, China’s market share in India’s solar imports was 84%. Vietnam and Thailand accounted for 4.9% and 4.5% of the imports, respectively.
In India, the Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) recently recommended imposing anti-dumping duty on the imports of fluoro backsheet originating in or exported from China for five years starting March 29, 2022. DGTR had also recommended anti-dumping duty on certain flat-rolled aluminum products imported from China to offset the injury caused due to dumping in the Indian market.
Although the solar exports from India to the U.S. are currently insignificant, this might soon change with more manufacturing capacity being developed in the country. The policies implemented by the U.S. for solar components could have a significant impact on these exports.
Arjun Joshi is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Before joining Mercom, he worked as a technical writer for enterprise resource software companies based in India and abroad. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, Psychology, and Optional English from Garden City University, Bangalore. More articles from Arjun Joshi.