Bifacial Modules in the Spotlight with US Move

The move by the Trump administration to remove the exemption that had been granted to Bifacial modules from punitive tariffs on Chinese imports is a signal about the growing share of Bifacials in the US market.

Under Section 201 tariffs , bifacial solar panels had enjoyed an exemption in the U.S. market , granted in June 2019. The exemption is set to go away by October 28.

While U.S.-based manufacturing firms obviously pushed for dropping the exemption, the Solar Energy Industries Association had supported it, as they saw increasingly more parts of the  solar supply chain from mostly China come under protectionist tariffs.

“After evaluating newly available information…demonstrating that global production of bifacial solar panels is increasing, that the exclusion will likely result in significant increases in imports of bifacial solar panels and that such panels will likely compete with domestically produced monofacial and bifacial CSPV products in the U.S. market, the U.S. Trade Representative has determined…that maintaining the exclusion will undermine the objectives of the safeguard measure,” reads the new order.

The move, followed by the comments of the US Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, Mr Francis Fannon who is in India on a visit, further make the case for India to relook its policy impact on quality. Mr fannon cautioned India bluntly on the direction of its solar sector, warning about the long term risks to quality when the industry opts for cheap Chinese imports. His assertion, that US firms take a much more rounded view on long term quality, service and related issues, was also a pointed comment on the dominance, and persistence of almost outdated poly crystalline  modules and cells in India, despite the world beginning a decisive shift to Mono Perc and even bifacials.

Mr Fannon was in Delhi  for the launch of Flexible Resources Initiative (FRI) under the US-India Clean Energy Finance Task Force. FRI, part of Asia EDGE (Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy) initiative, aims to develop effective strategies to ensure India’s power system has the flexibility it needs to integrate renewable energy over the next decade, while reliably meeting surging demand.

For India, where the MNRE has recommended solar duties going upto 30 percent from 2023 onwards to create a manufacturing base in the country, the US move will be a vindication of its stand to cut down dependence on Chinese imports, amid the perception that very high dependence on that market is not allowing domestic manufacturing to take root.

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