President Biden Boosts Solar Energy Through Executive Action

President Biden Boosts Solar Energy Through Executive Action

President Biden has announced that he will waive any new potential tariffs imposed on solar manufacturers importing parts from Southeast Asia for two years while simultaneously invoking the Defense Production Act to speed domestic solar panel production. The unprecedented step comes in response to an ongoing Department of Commerce investigation into solar energy manufacturing overseas that has paused renewable energy growth in the US.

Yahoo Finance: President Biden waives tariffs on solar panels for two years, June 6, 2022.

Why This Matters

In March, the Department of Commerce announced that it would investigate the solar panel supply chains overseas after US-based Auxin Solar filed a petition accusing Chinese manufacturers of moving their production to four Southeast Asian nations to skirt US tariffs. Clean energy advocates denounced Auxin’s petition as a self-interested maneuver that could kill American clean energy growth.

Al Jazeera: US Solar Projects on Hold Due to Tariff Inquiry, May 17, 2022.

"At stake is the complete smothering of the investment and the jobs and the independence we would be seeking as a nation to get our fuel from our own generation sources,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm warned.

Until Monday, President Biden was careful not to interfere in the Department of Commerce’s investigation. His latest announcement, however, eliminated the threat of trade penalties for energy manufacturers, boosting production among companies that have kept billions of dollars in reserve in the case of being slapped with fines. Stocks in the solar industry shot up following the President’s order. The Department of Commerce’s investigation remains ongoing, though now with lowered stakes.

CNBC: Our call to action has been answered, says top solar analyst, June 6, 2022.

Clean Capital: Department of Commerce Tariff | What it Means for Solar & Storage Developers (Webinar), April 27, 2022.

Declaring War On Climate Change

President Biden also announced he would invoke the Defense Production Act to stimulate the domestic manufacture of solar panel parts. Granholm explained this would allow the US to "take ownership of its clean energy independence” and reduce its reliance on "foreign sources and adversarial nations.” Increased solar manufacturing stateside may also alleviate the manufacturing bottleneck that has slowed solar production.

CBS: A look at the cost of solar energy access and who benefits from it, April 16, 2022.

International Renewable Energy Agency: World Energy Transitions Outlook 2022, March 22, 2022.