Solar panel players still squabbling over AD/CVD circumvention case

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On May 1, 2023, the U.S. Department of Commerce will announce its final decision on antidumping/countervailing duty (AD/CVD) evasion litigation affecting the solar industry. Solar panel manufacturers are submitting case briefs to the DOC this month, which will influence the final decision.



In December 2022, Provisional trade decision Chinese solar cell and panel producers were working in four Southeast Asian countries as a way to avoid paying tariffs on Chinese solar products. AD/CVD is China’s solar imports since 2012, Commerce has proposed increasing tariffs on silicon solar cells and panels exported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Specifically, preliminary decisions extend AD/CVD to crystalline silicon cells using wafers made in China and final panels fabricated on wafers made in China. These final panels include silver paste, aluminum frames, glass, backsheets, ethylene vinyl acetate sheets, and junction boxes. Wafers manufactured outside of China using Chinese polysilicon are not considered China manufactured wafers.

Tariffs were proposed for all exports from Southeast Asian countries, with the exception of four companies that were investigated and found not to evade tariffs: New East Solar (Cambodia), Hanwha Qcells (Malaysia), JinkoSolar (Malaysia), and Boviet Solar (Vietnam).

This survey has plagued the U.S. solar industry for more than two years. A group of anonymous solar panel manufacturers first asked Commerce to investigate certain Chinese solar panel manufacturers operating in Southeast Asia in 2021 as a way to avoid AD/CVD requirements. The Department of Commerce dismissed the petition For petitioner anonymity.California-based solar panel assembler Auxin Solar changed its name to New petition for 2022 It was the main voice behind the request. Auxin officials allege Chinese solar producers operating in Southeast Asia are unfairly pricing their products to undercut US manufacturers.

President Joe Biden intervened, Two-year suspension of additional tariffs By June 2022, it aims to “allow the United States access to a supply of sufficient solar modules to meet its power generation needs while domestic manufacturing expands.” May’s final tariff decision won’t go into effect until June 6, 2024, per Biden’s executive order.

new development

A diagram showing the stages of making a silicon solar panel. Illustrated by Al Hicks/NREL

Solar panel manufacturers are submitting summaries and counterarguments to the DOC throughout March. The main point of contention is Commerce’s new “wafer-forward” ruling. The 2012 AD/CVD parameters imposed tariffs on silicon cells and modules. The country of origin is p-n junction activation, occurs in the development of solar cells. With a preliminary decision in December 2022, tariff rules took his one step back to silicon wafers.

Companies found to be evading tariffs in December 2022 did so under the new wafer-forward rule. It was compliant under previous cell transfer requirements, but now the rules have changed.

Companies seeking clarification on this new ruling include JinkoSolar, Trina Solar, Canadian Solar, Silfab, Longi, Maxion and others.

A wafer-forward setback is likely to be a small win for applicant Auxin Solar, but the California panel company has expressed dissatisfaction with Commerce’s decision that wafers produced outside of China are made in China. Polysilicon was not under investigation. Auxin said in a document that it relies solely on Chinese input, but that it offers a “jailbreak” card to silicon solar producers who “only slice Chinese-made polysilicon ingots into wafers outside of China.” says. Almost 80% of the world’s polysilicon comes from China.

North American panel maker Silfab called Auxin’s reference to the Monopoly game ironic. [crystalline silicon] It seeks to effectively monopolize this process in direct violation of Silfab USA’s interests, and that of the domestic solar industry as a whole. “

No other crystalline silicon solar panel manufacturer stands behind Auxin. The only other proponent of the AD/CVD extension is his CdTe thin film maker First Solar, whose solar panel products are not included in the avoidance study.

Future points

Commerce will announce a final decision on May 1. Tariff rates are not included in avoidance investigations, Clean Energy Associates published some information On how to set them:

For manufacturers also doing business in China, the tariff rates for cells and modules manufactured in the specified countries (Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam) are the same as the tariff rates paid for products exported from China. Become. For companies that do not manufacture cells in China, but use Chinese wafers to manufacture cells in designated countries, the tariff rate is based on the tax rate of the Chinese company that manufactures the wafers (its if your company has a tariff rate). If these cells use Chinese wafers from a company that does not have a tax rate, then these cells and modules will be subject to the ‘Whole China’ anti-dumping rate of 238.95% and the ‘all others’ offsetting rate of 15.24%. .

Also, probably getting off the pike is Congressional Review Act (CRA) Vote It could overturn President Biden’s two-year tariff moratorium.A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a resolution in the House, where eight Republicans submitted a bill in the Senate on February 16th. The CRA Act allows Congress to override federal regulations with a simple majority. The CRA expires if he does not pass within 60 days of introduction.

If the CRA passes both houses, President Biden will be able to veto the bill (likely since it was his first executive order). A two-thirds majority in both chambers could overturn the president’s veto.

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