Ean GoodguySeptember 20, 20183450
After proclaiming 30% tariffs on all imported solar panels in January, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) will officially eliminate certain products from the import duties starting Sept. 19, 2018.
Officially Eliminated From 30% Tariffs
45-W off-grid solar panels
4-W solar panels
120-W flexible and semi-flexible panels applied for motor vehicles and boats
90-W frameless solar panels in colors other than black or blue
IBC and busbar-less solar cells
IBC and busbar-less solar panels
modules using only U.S.-made solar cells
The apparent winner in this situation is SunPower, which, although a U.S. business, manufacturers/assembles its interdigitated back contact (IBC) modules in the Philippines and Mexico.
Talking About Solar Winners
“With today’s ruling that SunPower’s highly differentiated IBC cells and modules are excluded from tariffs, we can turn the page,” stated SunPower Chairman and CEO Tom Werner. “SunPower can now fully focus our resources to deliver the best solar solutions to our customers, develop the succeeding wave of solar technology through American research and development and invest in American solar manufacturing.”
The January solar tariff determination kicked off a trade battle between the United States and mainly China that had its latest community just yesterday with new 10% duties on imported Chinese goods, including solar inverters and AC modules. The initial 30% tariffs on solar panels affect imports from all foreign countries, and Chinese solar panels were connected with an additional 25% tariff last month.
USTR got over 50 requests for exemption from the 30% panel tariffs, some more serious than others. SunPower produced the most documentation to establish exclusion of its IBC solar cells used in high-efficiency modules. BayWa r.e. Solar Systems jointly filed with LG Electronics USA to request disqualification of all IBC solar modules, since LG and SunPower’s IBC modules were “functionally identical.”
The principal difference between SunPower and LG’s IBC solar panels is the number of busbars. SunPower uses no visible busbars, while LG uses many tiny busbars. The official tariff elimination only references solar panels with “no visible busbars or gridlines on the front of the cell.” SunPower gets the exclusion while LG has to keep paying the tariff.
SunPower declared in April it would acquire Oregon-based SolarWorld, in what seemed to be an increased effort to show the U.S. government that it is all-in on American manufacturing. The addition should be completed before the end of the year. Although its high-efficiency panels are now eliminated from the tariffs, SunPower still plans to produce its modules in the Oregon plant, which was earlier rated at over 500-MW capacity.
“SunPower’s 33 years of technology innovation and solar industry leadership are an essential part of the story around America’s energy evolution,” Werner stated. “We appreciate the Administration’s thorough review and consideration on this matter and gather this outcome supports common goals of technology innovation, economic prosperity, energy independence and U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace.”
LG also declared it would build its own 500-MW solar panel facility in Alabama to avoid some of the tariffs. LG is a South Korean company but has a vital presence in the U.S. residential and commercial markets.
We’ve been covering the effects of the solar panel tariffs since the beginning. Check out our recent news reports here, including an extensive feature on foreign manufacturers setting up shop in the United States.
Regardless of tariffs, you can still get the best deal on a solar panel system today with HahaSmart.
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