Research firm Panjiva revealed that according to the analysis of S&P Global Market Intelligence, US solar panel imports fell sharply in the third quarter, with a decline of 27%, the largest single-quarter decline since 2018.
According to Standard & Poor's data, total shipments not only decreased by 27% on the basis of the second quarter of 2021, but also decreased by 11% compared with the third quarter of 2020. Many in the industry blame the situation on a proposal to increase tariffs made by an anonymous group of domestic manufacturers last month.
The proposed tariffs will apply to Southeast Asian manufacturers, including components imported from Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand in addition to China. These countries account for 80% of the total US solar panel imports.
The report said that the uncertainty of tariffs has hindered the progress of the project, because once the tariffs are implemented, they can be traced back to completed sales. The US Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) warned that tariffs on solar panels imported from three Asian countries would damage nearly 30% of the US solar power generation capacity that is expected to be installed in the next two years.
At the same time, the timing of the proposed tariffs coincides with a time when component procurement is becoming increasingly difficult due to global supply chain issues and international shipping difficulties, regardless of the country of origin of the components. However, the possibility of imposing tariffs is not the only factor affecting imports.
Consulting firm Rystad Energy said that supply chain disruptions and shipping difficulties could threaten 56% of the global utility-scale solar projects planned for 2022. In addition, the Covid-19 epidemic around the world is far from over, and total production has not returned to the level before the epidemic.
In mid-August, there were reports that solar modules destined for the United States were detained by the US Customs and Border Protection as part of a mandatory action aimed at banning the import of solar equipment on the grounds that the equipment used a Chinese company suspected of using forced labor. Parts provided by the company. According to reports, approximately 100 MW of Jinko Solar's products have been detained by the agency. Analysts said that as long as the tariff investigation is ongoing, Jinko may not be able to ship hundreds of megawatts of capacity to the United States. All of the above factors may cause the Biden administration to deviate from the 2050 goal of solar energy to provide 45% of the US electricity.
The Solar Energy Future Research Report released by the US Department of Energy in September outlines the average annual installation of 30 GW of solar power in the United States from now to 2025 and the need to install 60 GW per year from 2025. According to SEIA's solar energy market insight report for the fourth quarter of 2020, the production capacity of domestic solar module manufacturers in the United States can only meet about half of their domestic demand.
Earlier this week, SEIA wrote to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo to "refute" the "credibility" of the unnamed tariff petitioner, stating that SEIA is launching a fight against the tariff request to protect the 10,000 solar companies and 231,000 solar workers in the United States from the "money benefits" behind the petition. Although the companies in the petition group that initiated the US photovoltaic manufacturing industry's anti-circumvention investigation against China have already identified themselves to the US Department of Commerce, in order to avoid any possible retaliation, their names are kept secret.