SolarWorld Americas announced that with the prospect of import relief close at hand, the company immediately will begin ramping up production and hiring up to 200 workers by May.
On Friday, the bipartisan U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) voted 4-0 in favor of a trade-case determination that a surge of imports has seriously injured the domestic solar cell and panel industry. The vote means that the case, in which SolarWorld Americas and Suniva Inc. are co-petitioners, moves to a remedy phase.
Meantime, the determination, combined with strong sales volumes and committed vendor relationships, will lead SolarWorld to boost production. By the end of the ramp, the company will employ about 500 American employees, some of them returning employees.
“Our struggle has always been about keeping alive the pioneering U.S. solar-technology industry as well as its workforce, from Ph.D. scientists to line workers,” said Juergen Stein, CEO and president of SolarWorld Americas. “With relief from surging imports in sight, we believe we can rev up our manufacturing engine and increase our economic impact.”
Nearly 30 U.S. solar-panel producers ceased manufacturing operations from 2012 to 2016, the period of investigation in the case, according to ITC figures. During this period, global imports increased nearly five-fold. This surge was led by China, whose imports rose by more than 700%, according to International Trade Commission data.
“Friday’s determination made clear that the U.S. industry’s problems have not been self-inflicted, but rather are the result of surging imports,” Stein said. “As such, we at SolarWorld are prepared to scale up our world-class manufacturing operations to produce leading solar products made by more American workers.”
The ITC will now conduct the remedy phase, including a hearing on Oct. 3 and a recommendation to the President on Nov. 13. President Trump then will have about two months to adopt that recommendation or another remedy.
News item from SolarWorld Americas