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Survey: Solar Deployment Hammered by Meritless Trade Case, U.S. Climate Goals in Jeopardy

Tuesday, Apr 05 2022

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Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Three-quarters of surveyed solar companies say that panel deliveries have been cancelled or delayed since the Commerce Department announced it was initiating a circumvention case against imports of solar goods from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, according to preliminary results of a survey conducted by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

The survey is an early snapshot of the harm more than 200 companies are experiencing as a result of the Commerce Department’s investigation. More than 90% of the companies polled said that the Commerce Department’s actions are having a severe or devastating impact on their bottom line. All market segments — residential, commercial, community solar, and utility-scale solar — overwhelmingly reported devastating or severe impacts from the investigation.

“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,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “We urge the administration to expedite this investigation and end this unnecessary roadblock to our clean energy future.”

The Commerce Department initiated the investigation on March 25, as the industry is fighting for legislation that will substantially increase solar deployment. The legislation, which is being considered under budget reconciliation, would establish a robust solar manufacturing supply chain that would make the United States less reliant on products from overseas.

To prove circumvention under U.S. law, the work to create a product in a particular country must be minor and insignificant. The countries listed in the petition have invested billions of dollars to establish a manufacturing base. Fabricating solar cells and panels is a major and significant operation that will take years to establish in the United States.

All of the domestic manufacturers that responded to the survey said this case will have a devastating or severe effect on their ability to operate. 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.

The results of this survey come as the industry experiences unprecedented supply chain challenges and price increases. In 2021, solar equipment costs increased by 18% and the threat of previous trade actions caused project delays and cancellations, according to a report released by SEIA and Wood Mackenzie.

A subsequent report by Wood Mackenzie found that the circumvention petitions could eliminate 16 gigawatts of panels from the U.S supply chain, which is two-thirds of all the panels the U.S. installed in 2021. SEIA estimates that as a result of this petition, the solar industry will lose 70,000 out of its 231,000 jobs.

“We’ve said that tariffs are not the right way to incentivize manufacturing, and that it is going to take time and policy commitment to move manufacturing into the United States at the scale that’s needed,” Ms. Hopper said. “The countries named in the petition have been reliable trading partners, and we need their products, in the near term at least, while we fight to establish a sustained and powerful manufacturing presence here in America.”

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About SEIA®: 

The Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA) is leading the transformation to a clean energy economy, creating the framework for solar to achieve 30% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030. SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies and other strategic partners to fight for policies that create jobs in every community and shape fair market rules that promote competition and the growth of reliable, low-cost solar power. Founded in 1974, SEIA is the national trade association for the solar and solar + storage industries, building a comprehensive vision for the Solar+ Decade through research, education and advocacy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org and follow @SEIA on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram

Media Contact: 

Morgan Lyons, SEIA's Director of Communications, mlyons@seia.org (202) 556-2872