One Solar Company's Petition Could Slow Solar Progress

One Solar Company's Petition Could Slow Solar Progress

The US Department of Commerce (DOC) is deciding whether or not to investigate one solar firm's "disingenuous" complaint that the rest of the American solar industry is going against trade law. The petition claims that the manufacturing of solar cells and modules in allied trading nations does not constitute a meaningful investment in those countries. Taking this petition seriously threatens the more than 230,000 Americans that work in the solar industry, and could set back decarbonization efforts.

Why This Matters

America is drastically increasing its renewable energy capacity. According to American Clean Power, the US eclipsed 200 gigawatts (GW) of total operating utility-scale clean power capacity in 2021. The biggest expansions were in wind and solar power: wind installed 12,747 megawatts (MW), and solar installed 12,364 MW.

Also, renewable energy has great potential to create jobs. Achieving a majority renewables grid within the next decade will fuel over $1 trillion in capital investment into the American economy and support 980,000 renewable energy jobs, stabilizing wholesale power prices and reducing US carbon emissions by over 60%.

IEA: Renewables Market Report, December 1, 2021.

Maintaining Solar Momentum

There is a precedent for the DOC to reject this petition. For over a decade, the DOC has accepted that the initial manufacturing of solar parts outside of the US is a major part of the process. The regulations proposed by this petition would require companies to begin setting aside as much as 200% of the value of a solar panel while an investigation takes place over the course of several months.

To ensure a zero-emissions future, solar supply needs to increase as quickly as possible. If the DOC does pursue the investigation, the disruption it would cause to the supply chain could halt up to 80% of this year’s already planned projects.

WW0: Powering America with Heather Zichal and Amanda Little, February 18, 2021.

CNBC: How The US Can Build A 100% Clean Grid, January 27, 2021.