Colorado solar industry says federal investment lowers tariff threat – The Journal

Inflation Cuts Act Boosts U.S. Solar Panel Makers, Allays Concerns Commerce Tariffs Will Suffocate Building Inventory

Recently installed solar panels line the roof of Marv Cay Stadium at the Colorado School of Mines Campus in Golden December 8, 2022. The campus currently operates enough solar panels to generate at least 1.5 megawatts of the 8 megawatts of peak power required to run the engineering department for 7,000 students. (Olivia Sun, Colorado Sun via Report for America)

Colorado solar industry leaders say the threat of U.S. Department of Commerce tariffs on some imported panels shouldn’t further disrupt the growing market, and new federal subsidies to U.S. panel makers could be the future. He added that it would alleviate the shortage.

The Department of Commerce in early December pending an investigation that several Southeast Asian panel makers were dumping subsidized Chinese components here, and the tentative decision is to further cut panel supplies. No, said officials from Namaste Solar, Sunshare and industry associations. In the spring, a Colorado solar installer said its global shipments of panels were hampered as Commerce Department officials threatened to impose massive tariffs retroactively on panels in transit and even panels delivered. Said it had effectively stopped. Colorado solar companies delayed projects and prepared for mass layoffs.

But over the summer, the White House suspended new tariffs until 2024 after complaints from US solar producers that the new import restrictions would hurt the transition to clean energy. Meanwhile, Colorado solar leaders say new subsidies to U.S. manufacturing plants under the Inflation Reduction Act will make them more price competitive with Asian imports and boost overall supply. I’m here.

After the tariff scare of early 2022, more sober thoughts prevailed and the import issue “will not stop the shift to renewable energy in the United States,” says David Amster, founder of community solar garden developer SunShare. Olszewski said. “I think it’s just complexity. What you hope is that companies like us aren’t spending their time grappling with all these nuances of import-export trade issues.”

The Commerce Department warned that four companies in Southeast Asia appear to be largely reselling Chinese-made panels to avoid high tariffs on Chinese imports. But that assessment won’t be final until May 2023, and will be negated in any case by the Biden administration imposing a ban on the new tariffs until his 2024, he said. said Mr.

Federal regulators have found that four other Southeast Asian companies have changed their practices and are truly making the panels themselves, avoiding super tariffs that could triple the U.S. price of the panels.

The fact that Commerce has notified four international importers for 2023 “adds pressure to the process and hurdles, but all this is far from final,” he said.

“It’s not good, but it’s certainly not the end of the world,” said Mike Krueger, president of the Colorado Solar and Storage Association trade group.

Amster-Olszewski, like other solar CEOs, says he prefers a carrot to boost U.S. panel makers to the stick of new import tariffs in a market where 80% of panels are now made overseas. rice field. The Inflation Reduction Act provides favorable tax credits for domestic panel makers and several other credits for projects that use US parts.

US industry leader First Solar has just announced a new billion-dollar factory in Alabama. This growth is due to the opportunities expected from the new tax credit.

“If you take the carrot approach, industry will follow suit, and indeed, that’s exactly what they did,” said Amster-Olszewski.

The Inflation Reduction Act “provides domestic manufacturers with market stability, manufacturing support and incentives for projects that use domestic content,” said business development director of developer and installer Namaste Solar. One Eliot Abel said. “Carrots, right? The proverbial stick, tariffs, have never been effective enough to make meaningful changes to U.S.-based production.

According to industry insiders, the supply of panels remains tight, with applications ranging from utility-scale developments aimed at replacing coal-fired power plants to 10-megawatt community solar gardens or individual home installations. Colorado project prices are rising. However, a lockdown across industry executives warned during early 2022 tariff discussions has eased. Developers are refocusing on solving kinks in the supply chain and finding the most affordable panels possible.

Abel said, “It’s not the same as when nobody was shipping anything because of the threat of tariff rollback, and I don’t know who would be involved. It was a complete freeze. Shipments are happening. Bigger.” The impact is that there is still not enough supply to meet demand and prices are still high and there is no prospect of them going down.”

SunShare is paying about 35% more for its solar panel units than it did two years ago. Developers all welcome federal subsidy legislation, but are realistic about when new products in the United States will have an impact.

“The sheer amount of time it takes to get things up and running, investing, planning, hiring people, putting all the machines in place, and actually starting to build the level they want to build is a year and a half here. I will not come to you,” said Abel.

As such, the 2024 calculation has been delayed due to a final decision on import tariffs.

“It’s not good that the risk of a trade war is looming,” he said.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported, journalist-owned news outlet that investigates issues of statewide concern. Sign up for our newsletter and read more at

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