As US Continues Pressure On Chinese Manufacturers, Solar Growth Stalls

Highlights :

  • The issues, coming at a time when the US is committed to growing solar capacity will definitely slow down growth.
  • The period of uncertainty looks set to continue at least till the DoC completes its investigations

The long running investigation into dumping, or imports from China into the US continues on its run, impacting firms, and now, it seems overall solar growth in the US in a big way. As one of the world’s largest solar export markets and one that offers higher margins than many, the US market has long been coveted. Chinese manufacturers duly moved in, and were having a strong run till trouble erupted in 2018, when the first of many curbs and investigations were started by the Trump administration.

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No, those investigations continue. JinkoSolar, Trina Solar and Hanwha Q CELLS (South Korea) are among eight PV manufacturers that have been selected by the US Department of Commerce (DOC) to provide further information on their operations as part of the agency’s ongoing tariff circumvention investigation.

Manufacturers with operations in South East Asian countries, especially Malaysia and Vietnam have also been asked to respond to a questionnaire seeking more derails on their ownership and corporate structures.

These investigations follow a petition from  Auxin Solar, a US module manufacturer in February this year following which the DOC decided  to investigate four Southeast Asian countries. The issue was circumventing US anti-dumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) orders on cells and modules from China.

LONGi solar owned Vina Solar, Boviet Solar and Canadian Solar are among the other firms being covered by the ivestigation.

Industry body Solar Energy Installers Association (SEIA) has already predicted a drop of 24 GW installations due to the delays in imports caused by the investigation, and higher priced sourcing. That is because tariffs, should they be applied, would come into effect retrospectively, making customers and installers leery of being in a hurry to rush into fresh projects. There have been small wins for the installers body, like exemption for Bifacial modules.

With domestic manufacturing capacity yet to scale up, it’s a problem that is familiar to Indian developers too, even though the pipeline for domestic manufacturing is much more strong in India.  What that means is that both in the present, and in the future, the possibilities of exports to the US will remain strong for Indian manufacturers, who have been exporting there in any case all through the period.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International

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