Bifacial Solar Tariffs Back On After Court Ruling

After months of legal back-and-forth, a ruling in the U.S. Court
of International Trade has reinstated tariffs on two-sided solar
panels, giving the Trump administration a victory in its waning
days.�

Despite numerous attempts by the Trump administration to
reimpose tariffs on bifacial solar panels, which the administration
initially included in its
broad solar tariffs in 2018
 but
exempted in 2019
, legal challenge had largely put those tariffs
on hold. The Thursday ruling allows the federal government to start
tariffing imported two-sided panels.

“This litigation has taken many twists and turns,†wrote
Judge Gary Katzmann in the decision.
Ultimately, the court was “not persuaded†by arguments that a

presidential proclamation
released in October, which withdrew
the
Section 201
exclusion for bifacial panels, should be handled as
part of an existing case challenging the U.S. Trade
Representative’s
attempted withdrawal
of the same exemption. That means the
presidential proclamation can be implemented. In addition to
expanding tariffs to include bifacial solar, the proclamation
increased the tariff level to 18 percent in the fourth year of the
duties.

The change comes just two months before president-elect Joe
Biden will take office. The tariffs are set to dissolve altogether
in early 2022. It’s unclear if Biden will pursue a continuation
of the tariffs. The president-elect also has the authority to
reverse the proclamation post-inauguration, according to David
Glynn, an attorney with Holland & Hart.

The presidential proclamation released in October suggested the
Trump administration may pursue a tariff extension, though his
government only has a few weeks to do so.

The Solar Energy Industries Association, which was party to the
litigation challenging the expansion of the tariffs, expressed
disappointment with the court’s decision. 

“The latest effort by the administration to reverse direction
on the bifacial exclusion, as well as increase the Section 201
tariffs starting in February, is baseless,†John Smirnow,
SEIA’s vice president of market strategy and general counsel,
said in a statement.

Smirnow said SEIA plans to explore further legal options,
including the possibility of filing a new case challenging the
October presidential proclamation. Judge Katzmann’s ruling noted
that the plaintiffs in the case, including SEIA, are still able to
bring up their concerns in a separate action.

Invenergy, an energy developer and operator that was also a
plaintiff in the case, declined to comment on the decision.

The Thursday ruling favors manufacturers with U.S. bases such as
Hanwha Q Cells, Jinko Solar and LG. First Solar, which has a solar
factory in Ohio and whose technology is also exempt from Section
201 tariffs, stands to see the biggest benefit.   

Though the solar industry has been aware of the exclusion’s
precarity for months, the change could cause ripples in the market
for some.

“Some module suppliers have already priced in the tariff
uncertainty during the contract negotiations, so buyers will not be
surprised,†said Xiaojing Sun, a senior solar analyst at Wood
Mackenzie. “However, there are also suppliers who took advantage
of the tariff exemption and offered their customers really
attractive bifacial module pricing without the tariff. In those
cases, the buyers and sellers will have to negotiate again and
settle the price difference.â€

The tariff exclusion helped bifacial modules, which were already
gaining in popularity, become the preferred choice for many
utility-scale developers working in the U.S. Though prices will
rise due to the tariffs, Sun said developers are still likely to
favor the technology because of the electricity gains it
provides.

Source: FS – GreenTech Media
Bifacial Solar Tariffs Back On After Court Ruling