The U.S. Department of Commerce announced that it would order tariffs of 31% and more on solar photovoltaic (PV) panels imported from China after a preliminary finding that Chinese companies were selling panels in the United States at prices below fair market value (dumping). If U.S. trade officials affirm this preliminary finding this fall, it will have a big impact on the cost of PV development and possibly on the availability of panels in the U.S. market.
“More than 60 Chinese firms, including Suntech Power Holdings Co., the world’s largest solar panel maker, and Trina Solar Ltd., face a 31% duty on their exports to the U.S., retroactive to shipments made in February. All other Chinese exporters of solar cells will be hit with a tariff of 250%,” said a Los Angeles Times article.
The tariffs come on top of penalties of less than 5% the Commerce Department ordered in March after finding the manufacturers were illegally subsidized by China’s government. That ruling was seen as moderate by both U.S. manufacturers of solar panels, who had sought the Commerce Department’s intervention, and U.S. solar developers who buy panels. This ruling? Not so moderate.
The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) warned that the steep tariffs could spark a trade war between the U.S. and China, and that the increased cost of solar panels “will ultimately come right out of the paychecks of American solar workers.”
The Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM), a group of U.S. PV panel-makers and supporters, called the ruling “a very positive first step.”