U.S. suspends solar tariffs for two years and launches domestic PV buildup program

U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday (June 6) issued a directive authorizing the Secretary of Commerce to suspend »certain duties« on solar modules originating in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam for 24 months. By the end of that period, the directive states, the domestic solar industry should be able to supply the country, but currently there is an »emergency« and therefore »Immediate action is needed to ensure in the interim that the United States has access to a sufficient supply of solar modules to assist in meeting our electricity generation needs.«
The U.S. solar industry expects this will render obsolete proceedings initiated in March by the Commerce Department to investigate whether U.S. import restrictions against Chinese companies are being circumvented with imports from the four countries mentioned, following a request filed in February by California-based module maker Auxin Solar. Other solar companies, coordinated by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), had protested vehemently, arguing that the initiation of the investigation alone had jeopardized investment security and delayed numerous projects. The tariffs on solar imports introduced by former President Donald Trump and directed primarily, but not only, against China would actually have expired in February. But Biden had extended them once again – while doubling the quota exempted from the tariffs to five gigawatts.
Also on Monday, Biden authorized the application of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to key energy sectors with a total of five directives. This allows the law, which was passed in 1950 and empowers the federal government to intervene in industry up to and including requiring the production of certain goods, to be applied to the following areas: Solar panels and their components, transformers and grid components, heat pumps, building insulation materials, and electrolyzers, fuel cells and the relevant platinum metals.
The U.S. government also plans to initiate extensive measures to promote the domestic solar industry, including »Master Supply Agreements« for fast and easy deliveries from domestic manufacturers to the U.S. government and »super preferences« for U.S. solar products on government projects. Biden announced other measures as well, such as making more government land available for renewable energy projects, strengthening community projects in cities and rural areas, and also programs to support »building resilient clean energy manufacturing supply chains in allied nations around the world, reducing global dependence on China.«

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