June 25, 2024
Electric & Hybrid Cars

Record-breaking solar installations set to drive U.S. solar project boom

U.S. solar tariff expiration triggers rush to use stockpiled panels

A two-year U.S. tariff holiday on solar panels from Southeast Asia expired on Thursday, starting the clock ticking for American project developers to use the significant amount of equipment they stockpiled duty-free over that period by the end of this year.

This development could lead to a surge in U.S. solar installations, further fueling the already booming sector, while causing some friction with the emerging domestic manufacturing industry eager to see a shift towards American-made products.

Around 35 gigawatts (GW) of imported panels have been accumulated in U.S. warehouses by solar developers since President Joe Biden lifted the duties on Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam in 2022, to facilitate domestic projects aimed at combating climate change, according to energy advisory firm Clean Energy Associates.

This stockpile is nearly equivalent to the total solar capacity the U.S. is projected to install throughout the entire year of 2024, as reported by research firm Wood Mackenzie.

The majority of the inventory is believed to originate from the specified countries, and with the reimplementation of tariffs on June 6, companies will have a 180-day window to utilize the Southeast Asian stock before facing additional costs.

Amidst this backdrop, companies have significantly ramped up project construction, with utility-scale installations surging 135% to 9.8 GW in the first quarter, according to Wood Mackenzie.

“The temporary tariff moratorium successfully ensured an adequate supply of solar modules to support the increased deployment of clean energy,” stated Stacy Ettinger, senior vice president of supply chain and trade for the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Despite this, an attorney representing U.S. solar manufacturers advocating for new tariffs on Southeast Asian imports expressed skepticism regarding the feasibility of utilizing all the existing inventory within the designated timeframe.

The influx of panels marks a notable shift for the U.S. industry, which was grappling with supply constraints until recently due to the pandemic and other factors.

The White House has affirmed its commitment to enforcing the 180-day deadline to discourage stockpiling, while SEIA has focused on advocating against circumvention tariffs, citing concerns over increased project costs and potential hindrances in addressing climate change.

FAQ

Q: What triggered the rush to utilize stockpiled solar panels in the U.S.?

A: The expiration of a two-year tariff holiday on solar panels from Southeast Asia prompted American project developers to quickly deploy the equipment they had accumulated duty-free.

Conclusion

The end of the U.S. tariff holiday on Southeast Asian solar panels has set the stage for a flurry of activity in the solar industry, with developers racing against time to leverage the stockpiled inventory. As the sector experiences rapid growth, navigating the transition towards American-made gear amidst evolving trade dynamics remains a key challenge.

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