As US President Donald Trump (under the umbrella in front with current First Lady Melania Trump) spends his last few weeks in the White House, he has got one up against US solar energy community with the US trade court rejecting petition to let bifacial solar modules remain exempt from Section 201 tariffs. (Photo Credit: Mike Pence/Twitter)
- US trade court has upheld President Trump’s decision to remove Section 201 tariff exemption for imported bifacial modules
- Rejecting the plea filed by plaintiffs, the court said it was not persuaded by their arguments to continue the exemption
- Analysts at Wood Mackenzie believe the decision will not really impact developers from still choosing bifacial technology for their projects
- Residential solar segment will be largely untouched since it does not use bifacial modules
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The US Court of International Trade has ruled in favor of bringing imported bifacial solar modules under tariff regime of Section 201, rejecting the plea filed by Invenergy Renewables LLC, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), EDF Renewables and AES Distributed Energy to let the exemption remain.
The court has however allowed these parties to ‘seek further recourse by filing separate actions’. The court had stayed President Trump’s proclamation ordering exemption for imported bifacial solar modules from Section 201 tariffs in October 2020 (see Bifacial Solar Panels Dodge Trump’s Bullet Again).
In the order issued, Judge Gary Katzmann accepted the litigation has taken many twists and turns, but added that ‘the court is not persuaded by Plaintiffs’ arguments that the existing action and proposed second supplemental complaints are sufficiently related to justify amendment’. “The court finds that the current and proposed claims are not directly related such that they warrant amendment sought by Plaintiffs.
Roth Capital Partners analysts believe the exclusion is withdrawn as of November 19, 2020. They see this as an incremental positive for domestic manufacturer First Solar. The residential solar segment by virtue of not using bifacial modules remain not impacted by the court’s order, they note.
Philip Shen of Roth opines the United States Trade Representative (USTR) may request the US International Trade Commission (USITC) to extend the Section 201 by a few more years.
It could also mean the 4th year tariffs may be raised from 15% to 18% as ordered by Trump in his proclamation issued last month (see Bifacial Panels To Be Back Under Safeguard Duty In US).
GTM Research quoted Wood Mackenzie’s Senior Solar Analyst Xiaojing Sun to add that though prices for bifacial solar will go up due to the tariffs, it won’t impact the developers from choosing this technology due to the electricity gains it provides. Sun did point out that this decision may lead to some negotiations between buyers and sellers in cases where suppliers offered customers ‘attractive bifacial-module pricing without the tariff’.
It remains to be seen how clean energy supporter US President Elect Joe Biden will deal with the matter once he assumes leadership of the country from Trump (see Joe Biden Bats For Clean Energy To Create Jobs).