Solar industry faces gloomy summer, projects shelved amid allegations China violated trade rules

The solar industry has sounded alarm bells as the Commerce Department investigates whether China circumvents U.S. tariffs by sending components used to make solar panels through other countries to the U.S., which could seriously jeopardize clean energy projects across the country.

According to the Clean Energy Association of America, up to 80 percent of imported solar panels are produced in four Southeast Asian countries – Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The Biden administration argues that China can circumvent trade laws by supplying nearby countries with components that would otherwise be subject to tariffs.

Earlier this year, President Biden extended Trump-era tariffs on solar equipment but allowed two exemptions for panels used in large utility-scale projects.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association’s survey of businesses, the survey meant that at least 318 solar projects had been put on hold as of the end of last month. The investigation is likely to continue until at least the end of August, when the Commerce Department is expected to release preliminary findings.

Investigation could ‘jeopardize tens of thousands of high-paying U.S. jobs, raise energy prices for consumers, and undermine the government’s clean energy [and] climate goals,” Sen. Jackie Rosen, D-Nevada, told Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo at a hearing last month.

Still, Ms Raimondo said they had no intention of expediting the investigation. On Wednesday, she will again appear before a congressional panel and is expected to be questioned by lawmakers from both parties.

The investigation was launched in early April based on allegations of trade violations by California-based small solar manufacturer Auxin Solar.

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