Biden stated that he would continue the four-year-old tariffs imposed on imported panels and solar cells by Trump. However, he exempted so called bifacial panels that can produce electricity on both sides. These panels are used in large scale solar projects. When Trump first imposed tariffs, the technology was still in its infancy.
Biden stated that excluding bifacial panel will allow us to ensure that solar energy deployment continues at the speed and scale required to meet President Obama's climate and clean-energy targets, and create good jobs here at home. Along with clean-energy provisions in his still-stalled "Build Back Better" initiative, the actions on solar power "will enable us to rebuild a sustainable, competitive, and technologically-advanced domestic solar industry,'' Biden said.
Biden also increased the import quota for solar cells, which are the main components of panels that can be used on rooftops or utility sites. This allows domestic manufacturers to use more imported cells. According to a senior administration official, the U.S. doesn't currently make solar cells and wants to ensure that domestic suppliers don't have to pay tariffs on key inputs for their manufacturing process.
According to the official, cells are not from China but come from countries like Vietnam and Malaysia. The official stated that there is no reason for China to believe that increasing the import quota will somehow benefit them. This claim was disputed by some U.S. solar producers. Because they weren't authorized to speak publicly, the official spoke under anonymity.
Biden had to choose between competing constituencies regarding solar power, which is a crucial part of his climate- and clean-energy agenda. While labor unions support import restrictions in order to protect domestic jobs and the solar industry relies heavily on cheap panels imported from China, Malaysia, and Singapore, many of these panels are not made in the United States.
American Clean Power Association is a group that represents both installers as well as manufacturers in renewable energy. It praised the decision of the administration, calling it "a win-win for jobs and a win to the President's Climate Agenda."
Heather Zichal, CEO of the group, stated that Biden's decision "gives the domestic sun-product manufacturing industry four years to adjust to import competition as is intended by the statute." She was a former energy advisor to President Barack Obama.
Biden set a goal of reducing planet-warming greenhouse gases emissions by at most 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. Solar power is a key component of that plan. In December, the administration approved two large scale solar farmsin California and supported a third one last month. The Energy Department has just released a report that solar could supply as much as 40% of the country's electricity in 15 years. This is a tenfold increase on current solar output.
Abigail Ross Hopper is the president and CEO at the Solar Energy Industries Association. She said that she was disappointed by the extension of tariffs but said Biden had "arrived to a balanced solution" in that he kept bifacial panels out of the equation and increased the tariff rate quota (solar) cells.
Biden's decision to "recognize the importance of this innovative tech" is a major step forward in America's production of clean energy and in combating climate change, Hopper stated.
Trump approved tariffs on imports of solar-energy components in 2018. He stated that his administration would protect American workers and businesses against unfair competition. Initial tariffs were set at 30%. They were later reduced to 15% and 18% respectively. Without Biden's intervention, they were scheduled to expire Sunday.
Biden's decision will set tariffs at 14.75%, and gradually reduce them to 14%.
The U.S. solar-panel industry has tripled since the imposition of tariffs. South Korean and Chinese companies have established factories in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. An American company, First Solar Inc., has expanded domestic production at an Ohio plant.
Arizona-based First Solar chief executive Mark Widmar said that his company was "deeply dissatisfied" by Biden's decision not to include bifacial panel tariffs.
Widmar stated that the exclusion gives China and other large producers a disadvantage by giving illegally subsidized panels a temporary, artificial advantage over all other types. He said that China is the dominant producer of bifacial panels and this decision "effectively allows China to outflank American efforts at growing self-reliant solar supply chain chains."
Bipartisan Ohio legislators also condemned the decision. They said it "undermines American workers, manufacturers at a time when domestic solar production stands poised to dramatically increase."
Republican Senator. Republican Sen. These products shouldn't be allowed to enter the United States without duty.
Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), opposed this view. Her state has the highest number of solar jobs per capita in America.
Rosen stated that while she appreciated Biden's decision not to include bifacial panel panels, the overall decision to increase these harmful tariffs was disappointing. She stated that tariffs "harm America’s clean energy economy by unnecessarily hampering domestic solar projects, raising costs, and failing to incentivize local manufacturing," and pledged to fight "solar tariffs through legislation."
The Biden administration also announced that it will begin negotiations with Canada and Mexico in order to allow their products to be exported duty-free to the United States.