US tariff decision could push up the price of solar power

US tariff decision could push up the price of solar power

As the U.S. Department of Commerce releases the proposed anti-dumping duty on imported solar panels, solar panel makers say that Americans will pay more to generate their own electricity.

In a further escalation of the solar trade war with China, the U.S. Department of Commerce has imposed another layer of tariffs on solar modules from China, and – for the first time – on imports from Taiwan. In a decision announced today, Commerce will immediately impose antidumping duties ranging from 26.33 to 58.87 percent for most Chinese suppliers and 27.59 to 44.18 percent for Taiwanese producers.

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) was quick to condemn the decision.

“Enough is enough. The Department of Commerce continues to rely on an overly broad scope definition for subject imports from China, adversely impacting both American consumers and the vast majority of the U.S. solar industry,” Resch said. “We strongly urge the U.S. and Chinese governments to ‘freeze the playing field’ and focus all efforts on finding a negotiated solution. This continued, unnecessary litigation has already done serious damage, with even more likely to result as the investigations proceed.

“If there’s a silver lining to today’s announcement," Resch continued, “it’s the fact that the U.S. and Chinese governments, SolarWorld, and Chinese manufacturers now have a brief window of opportunity to move forward on settlement discussions. SEIA got the ball rolling in this direction first by proposing a negotiated solution and then bringing the parties together. Now it’s time to start bargaining in earnest.

“A win-win settlement of the broader U.S.-China-Taiwan solar trade conflict is still achievable – as well as one for polysilicon. As the old saying goes, ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way.’ Today, the parties are finally engaged and all sides seem committed to finding a negotiated solution. I am encouraging my U.S. and Chinese industry colleagues to roll-up our sleeves, work together, and find a deal that’s good for everyone.”

Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Limited the largest vertically integrated photovoltaic ("PV") module manufacturer in the world said that it will be subject to a preliminary anti-dumping tariff of 42.33 percent on certain PV solar module imports.

"Unfortunately, this determination will increase the price of solar energy in America, severely jeopardizing the U.S. solar industry's tremendous progress in cost competiveness and affordability when compared with traditional energy sources," said Robert Petrina, Managing Director of Yingli Green Energy Americas, Inc. "While we have fully cooperated throughout this investigation and were prepared for this preliminary decision, we ask that our industry comes together to resolve this dispute and focus on the growth of the promising American market. We remain committed to the U.S. solar market and will continue to support our partners and projects."

When combined with the previously announced preliminary countervailing duty ("CVD") tariff, Yingli's combined tariff rate on imported PV modules assembled in China, but containing cells manufactured in a third country from certain Chinese components, is 47.27 percent. Both the AD and CVD tariff determinations for all solar products covered by these petitions are preliminary, and may be revised once the International Trade Commission ("ITC") completes its investigation. The final AD and CVD determination is expected before the end of 2014, and the final ITC determination is expected in early 2015.

"As a result of protectionist trade policies that raise prices and slow the deployment of solar power, we anticipate that significantly fewer people in the U.S. and globally will experience the long-term economic and environmental benefits of widespread solar adoption," commented Liansheng Miao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy. "At Yingli, our mission is to bring affordable green energy to all, so we are hopeful that a solution based on the principles of free trade and fair competition will be reached."

According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Commerce Department said Yingli Green and other companies shipped billions of dollars of solar equipment to the U.S. at unfairly low prices last year.

The U.S. decision is part of a continuing battle between large producers of solar panels in North America and Europe and producers in Asia, which the U.S. blames for violating trade rules to support domestic producers. Panels from China have been far cheaper than those produced in other countries, driving down overall U.S. prices by about 60 percent since 2010.

China-based Trina Solar Ltd. TSL +3.86% last week was assigned a preliminary antidumping tariff of 26.33%, and Yingli Green and Wuxi Suntech Power Co. will have to pay a 42.33% duty on U.S. shipments if the dumping is confirmed.

The Commerce Department in June announced preliminary duties because of Chinese subsidies, and last week's decision on dumping brings the U.S. closer to putting up barriers to Asian solar products that weren't included in the earlier case.

Both sets of tariffs won't become permanent until they receive final approval from the Commerce Department, which is expected to rule by December, and the U.S. International Trade Commission, which is expected to rule by January.

Read more about solar power.

Topics: Photovoltaic / Solar Panels, Solar Power, Sustainability Trends & Statistics

Companies: U.S. Department of Energy, Solar Energy Industries Association

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