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US Solar Modules Are Competitive Without AD Protection

With Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) tax credits, U.S. module manufacturers are more than capable of competing with Southeast Asian imports. That's according to research carried out by Clean Energy Associates (CEA).

The report – commissioned on behalf of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) – found that potential new AD/CVD tariffs could raise the prices of U.S.-made solar panels by US$0.10/W and imported modules by US$0.15/W. This would “significantly impact” solar project economics, CEA noted. As things stand, module made in the U.S, are 2¢ cheaper per W.

The report also discovered that tariffs could impact the buildout of domestic solar supply, as module assembly factories will need to rely on imported cells, which would be subject to AD/CVD tariffs. The U.S. may not sufficiently build enough crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV cell capacity to support domestic module assembly, necessitating the continued use of cell imports to sustain U.S. module factories. 

Recently, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and International Trade Commission (ITC) confirmed that they would continue an AD/CVD investigation into solar cell imports from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Among their suspicions is that Chinese solar module manufacturers are exploiting a loophole to avoid tariffs on modules exported directly from China by sending essentially complete modules to Southeast Asia for "minor processing" before shipping them onwards to the U.S.

The full CEA report can be downloaded here.

Image: Clean Energy Associates

Many models suggest the U.S. must reach 500 GW of cumulative PV installations by 2030 to meet the government’s target of a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by that time. If tariffs are introduced. the U.S. may struggle to meet this target according to observers.


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