President Joe Biden will today waive tariffs for 24 months on solar panels made in Southeast Asia in response to a Department of Commerce (DOC) investigation that is destabilizing the US solar industry.

Biden’s action comes in response to a DOC probe into whether Southeast Asian solar cell manufacturers are using parts made in China that would normally be subject to a tariff.

The US solar industry relies on solar module imports to meet growing demand. As Electrek reported on May 16:

The vast majority of the US solar industry asserts that the DOC investigation, which launched on April 1, will devastate solar businesses and want it to be dismissed. Most also don’t think the investigation – the result of a petition filed by a single US solar crystalline silicon photovoltaic cell manufacturer who is incapable of supplying the entire US solar industry – should have been launched to begin with.

Reuters also reported in an exclusive yesterday that “Biden also will invoke the Defense Production Act to drive US manufacturing of solar panels and other clean energy technologies in the future, with the support of loans and grants, the sources said.”

The Biden administration is working to spur the rapid growth of domestic manufacturing of solar components, but does not want to interfere with the DOC inquiry.

Biden’s waiver will apply to Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam and run parallel to the investigation.

Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said in a statement today:

We applaud President Biden’s thoughtful approach to addressing the current crisis of the paralyzed solar supply chain…

While the Department of Commerce investigation will continue as required by statute, and we remain confident that a review of the facts will result in a negative determination, the president’s action is a much-needed reprieve from this industry-crushing probe. During the two-year tariff suspension window, the US solar industry can return to rapid deployment while the Defense Production Act helps grow American solar manufacturing.

Read more: US solar is under threat from a DOC inquiry, but the commerce secretary won’t step in

Photo: Texas Power Guide


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About the Author

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at michelle@9to5mac.com. Check out her personal blog.