Biden orders emergency steps to boost US solar production

President Joe Biden ordered emergency measures Monday to boost supplies to US solar power manufacturers and announced a two-year tariff exemption on solar panels from Southeast Asia as he tried to advance his goals to combat climate change.

Protesting the Defense Production Act His other enforcement actions come amid complaints from industry groups that the solar sector is slowing due to supply chain problems due to the Commerce Department’s investigation into potential trade violations related to Chinese products.. Statements of the actions of the White House caused profits for solar energy companies On Wall Street.

The Commerce Department announced in March that it was scrutinizing imports of solar panels from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia, concerned that products from those countries bypass US anti-dumping rules limiting imports from China.

When asked at the White House if Biden’s pause on tariffs was not a gift to China, press secretary Karen Jean-Pierre said he was citing the Defense Production Act, “to make sure it’s delivered to the American people.”

“It puts the full power of the federal government behind supporting American clean energy producers,” Jean-Pierre said.

White House officials said Biden’s actions are aimed at increasing domestic production of solar panel parts, building assembly materials, high-efficiency heat pumps and other components, including cells used for clean energy fuels. They described the tariff suspension affecting imports from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia as a bridging measure while other efforts increase domestic solar production — even as the administration continues to support US trade laws and Commerce investigations.

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Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told a Senate committee In May, that the investigation into solar energy follows a process established by law that does not allow consideration of climate change, supply chains or other factors. On Monday, she said she remains “committed to upholding our trade laws and ensuring that American workers have a chance to compete on a level playing field.”

“The president’s emergency declaration ensures American families have access to reliable and clean electricity while ensuring that we have the ability to hold our business partners accountable for their obligations,” Raimondo said in a statement.

Clean energy leaders have long warned that the investigation – which could lead to retroactive tariffs of up to 240% – would severely hamper the US solar industry, laying off thousands of workers and putting up to 80% of solar projects at risk. Planned across the country at risk.

The department considers that rates above 200% for solar energy products will not apply to the vast majority of imports. Instead, it usually applies to uncooperative companies that cannot distinguish themselves from the Chinese government or the Communist Party.

However, any potential penalty may have jeopardized one of Biden’s most important clean energy goals and conflict with his administration’s push for renewable energy such as wind and solar power, advocates argue.

“The president’s announcement will rejuvenate domestic solar construction and manufacturing by restoring predictability and business certainty that a flawed Commerce Department investigation has held up,” said Heather Zycal, CEO of the Clean Energy Association of America and a former Obama administration official. Monday statement.

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Abigail Ross Huber, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, welcomed Biden’s “thoughtful approach to addressing the current crisis of the paralyzed solar supply chain.”

“Today’s actions protect existing solar jobs, increase employment in the solar industry and strengthen a strong solar manufacturing base here at home,” Ross Huber said in a statement.

But not everyone in the industry was supportive.

First Solar Inc, a major maker of solar panels, said a tariff freeze would give “unrestricted access to state-backed solar companies in China over the next two years” and that using the Defense Production Act is an “ineffective use of payers’ money.” Taxes and its downfall. Much less than a permanent solar industrial policy.”

“Management can’t hold onto a Band-Aid on this issue and hope it goes away,” Samantha Sloan, the company’s vice president of policy, said in a statement.

Use of the executive action comes as the Biden administration’s tax cuts on clean energy, and other key proposals aimed at encouraging domestic green energy production, have stalled in Congress..

The Defense Production Act allows the federal government to produce direct manufacturing for national defense and has become a tool more commonly used by presidents in recent years. The Trump administration used it to produce medical equipment and supplies During the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden invoked his authority in April to increase production of lithium and other metals Used to power electric vehicles. Last month, he used it again to prioritize increasing the nation’s supply of infant formula amid a local shortage Because of the safety related shutdown of the country’s largest food processing plant.

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Jan Su, director of the Energy Equity Program at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement that Biden’s announcement could “give critical impetus to the needed transition to solar energy.”

“We hope that the use of the Defense Production Act will be a turning point for the president, who should use all of his executive powers to tackle the climate emergency head-on,” Su said.

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