Solar panels are not as environmentally friendly as you might think. And now, an industry group says looming tariffs will cripple the industry.
The bulk of solar panels are imported into the United States, which makes them cheaper but not necessarily environmentally friendly.
The problem is how the panels are made.
“The most of [the panels] are produced with energy from coal-fired power plants emitting carbon dioxide in China, ”a Wall Street Journal article said in July.
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“Solar panels in China are made from Chinese electricity, which is associated with high CO2 emissions,” Robbie Andrew, senior researcher at the Center for International Climate Research in Oslo, Norway, told FOX Business.
But now a group is claiming that the panels made in China are coming through countries like Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand in order to circumvent tariffs.
In August, the American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention (A-SMACC) asked the Commerce Department to investigate “unfair trade” imports from Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam of solar cells and modules that “bypass anti-dumping and countervailing duties on China illegally ”.
“While Chinese companies now export almost exclusively to the United States from Southeast Asia, the vast majority of manufacturing, research and development, and capital investment remain in China,” according to the A-SMACC.
“I don’t know if Malaysia and Vietnam have that much production capacity, so some might be ‘hijacked’ from other countries because of rights and bans,” Smith School professor Fengqi You told FOX. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering by Cornell. Business.
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Imports from Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand account for 80% of all panel imports into the United States, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), as reported by Reuters.
The Commerce Department is expected to decide soon whether to launch a trade investigation into solar cells and modules from those countries.
This sparked a response from the SEIA, claiming the tariffs would cripple the industry.
“We are writing to stress the immediate and serious threat posed to the US solar industry by the recently filed anonymous bypass petitions against imports of solar cells and panels from Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam,” said the SEIA in a September letter to the US Department of Commerce. Secretary Gina Raimondo.
“The massive rights demanded in these petitions, ranging from 50% to 250%, are already having a negative impact on the US solar industry and, if implemented, would devastate the industry and each of our individual businesses,” said the letter said.
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All the noise is happening because of a booming solar panel installation market in the United States
Over the past decade, solar has seen an average annual growth rate of 42%, according to SEIA.
“Thanks to strong federal policies such as the solar investment tax credit, rapidly falling costs and growing demand for clean electricity in the private and public sectors, there are now over 100 gigawatts (GW ) of solar capacity installed across the country, enough to power 18.9 million homes, ”SEIA said.