SolarWorld applauds trade remedy recommendations for U.S. solar

SolarWorld applauds trade remedy recommendations for U.S. solar

Federal trade officials on Tuesday will recommend measures to safeguard struggling domestic solar panel manufacturers against cheap imports in a closely watched case that could have a major impact on the price of US solar power. Meredith Broadbent, a Republican, backed modest import limits, starting at current levels, even as she said she was anxious that import restrictions could "adversely affect the hundreds of thousands of USA workers employed in installing solar projects, manufacturing other equipment. and providing a range of services, including cutting-edge research and development, in support of this market".

These range from an immediate 30 percent tariff on all imported solar modules to a four-year quota system that allows the import of up to 8.9 gigawatts of solar cells and modules in the first year.

In the most lenient recommendation, Commissioner Meredith Broadbent said the president should impose a four-year quota system that allows for imports of up to 8.9 gigawatts of solar cells and modules in the first year.

The commission's non-binding recommendations follow a unanimous vote in September that the imports are harmful. Donald Trump has until February to agree on a final solution.

Trump has vowed to protect U.S. manufacturers from low-cost imports, and U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has talked about tariff-rate quotas as a flexible way to protect some industries, allowing imports in as needed, but only up to a certain level before high tariffs kick in. Suniva has declared bankruptcy, while SolarWorld had to lay off three-quarters of its workforce. Other U.S. solar companies had been bracing for higher duties, which they said would have disrupted the $29 billion industry, stifling installations and triggering job cuts. On the other hand, several governors together with the main trade group for the solar industry are opposing the idea of solar tariffs. He claimed that the popularity of solar panels opened numerous positions for electrical workers who install these appliances. It called on President Trump to implement more stringent restrictions "necessary to save American manufacturing".

The tariff proposals are lower than requested by Suniva Inc., the bankrupt solar manufacturer that filed the case in April.

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At the moment, there is a high influx of solar panels coming from China and other foreign countries.

Suniva is majority owned by Hong Kong-based Shunfeng International Clean Energy.

But fears of steep new tariffs on imports have sparked widespread nervousness among solar developers and installers that have benefited from a 70 percent drop in the cost of solar since 2010.

USITC, an independent federal agency that governs trade, announced a range of recommendations aimed at protecting domestic makers of solar equipment from unfairly priced imports, especially from China.

"It's good that the trade commissioners' recommendations aren't as drastic as the petitioners sought in this case".

The ITC "recommendations demonstrate Suniva's request was not permissible under law", Ed Fenster, chairman of the rooftop solar company Sunrun Inc., said in a statement.

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