California, Sept. 22 (BNA) – A US solar industry group warned on Wednesday that tariffs on panels imported from three Asian countries would threaten nearly 30% of the solar energy the country is expected to install over the next two years.
The Commerce Department is preparing to make a decision by the end of September on whether to launch a commercial investigation into solar cells and modules from Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. Those countries account for 80% of all panel imports into the United States, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said in a statement.
In a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, SEIA said the duties – proposed by an unidentified group of domestic manufacturers last month – would be disruptive to the growth of the renewable energy sector.
“We cannot stress enough how much harm these tariffs would do to our companies and the entire US solar industry,” reads the letter, signed by nearly 200 solar companies.
SEIA said the tariffs will threaten 18 gigawatts of solar projects by 2023, enough to power about 3.4 million homes. The US industry is expected to install 63 gigawatts in 2022 and 2023, according to forecasts from research firm Wood Mackenzie.
Last month, a group calling itself US Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Fraud asked the Commerce Department to investigate unfair imports from the three countries. They accuse Chinese producers of moving manufacturing to those countries to avoid US anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Chinese-made cells and panels.
Companies demanding investigation and tariffs will not identify themselves due to fear of retaliation in the market.
The petition is the latest in a series of efforts by the small US solar manufacturing sector to seek commercial solutions to allow their products to compete with cheaper Asian panels that dominate the market. SEIA has for years opposed tariffs on solar energy imports because these products fueled the sector’s growth.