May 28, 2020 update: The U.S. Court of International Trade has ruled that bifacial solar panels will continue to enter the country tariff-free.
Statement from the USTR:
“…Judge Katzmann of the Court of International Trade blocked USTR from closing the bifacial panel exception. USTR strongly disagrees with Judge Katzmann’s analysis. The solar industry and the jobs it represents are important to this country, and USTR will take all necessary and appropriate steps to ensure that its safeguard relief is effective.”
This broken record again.
Bifacial solar modules have lost their exemption from the Section 201 tariffs on imported solar panels, effective May 18, 2020. A review:
- All imported solar panels were taxed beginning in 2018.
- Bifacial modules received a full exclusion in June 2019.
- Tariff exemption for bifacial modules was first revoked in October 2019.
- The U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) stepped in and reinstated the exemption for bifacial modules in December 2019.
- The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) accepted public comments on the bifacial exemption through February 2020.
- And now, in April 2020, the USTR again removed the tariff exemption for bifacial modules.
Bifacial modules, which produce power from both sides of the panel, were first granted exemption from the tariff in part because they were not frequently used and the utility-scale market was seeing a shortage of affordable monofacial modules for projects. But a lot has changed in a year, and bifacial modules are gaining popularity on utility-scale sites.
When bifacial modules first lost their tariff exemption in October, the USTR stated, “that the exclusion will likely result in significant increases in imports of bifacial solar panels, and that such panels likely will compete with domestically produced monofacial and bifacial CSPV products in the U.S. market.”
John Smirnow, VP of market strategy and general counsel for industry trade group SEIA, said of today’s final exemption removal decision:
“The U.S. solar industry is disappointed by USTR’s decision. The industry initially sought this exclusion because there is, and will be for the foreseeable future, an acute shortage of domestic panels used in utility-scale solar projects. Throughout this process, the solar industry has sought to find a middle ground solution that addressed this shortage in a way that did not undermine the objectives of the underlying Section 201 safeguard measure.
“It is unfortunate that USTR chose to pursue a course of action that will needlessly increase the financial burden on America’s energy consumers. We still hope to work with the administration to find constructive ways to grow the U.S. solar manufacturing base and take full advantage of the opportunities the solar industry offers to the American economy’s recovery.”