On Oct. 9, the Office of the United States Trade Representative announced a once-exempt type of solar panel will now be subject to a tariff.
The technology, called bifacial solar panels, will be subject to a 25% tariff beginning Oct. 28. Bifacial solar panels involve a technology that absorbs light more efficiently than other solar panels as a result of being double-sided.
Last January, the President issued Proclamation 9693 to impose a tariff on certain solar products while also directing the U.S. Trade Representative to establish a procedure for interested parties to request exclusions to this tariff.
In June, after a 30-day submission period in the spring, the U.S. Trade Representative granted certain requests. In particular, the U.S. Trade Representative excluded bifacial solar panels consisting only of bifacial solar cells.
In explaining its rationale to no longer grant this exclusion and impose the tariff, the Office noted, “Since publication of that notice, the U.S. Trade Representative has evaluated this exclusion further and, after consultation with the Secretaries of Commerce and Energy, determined it will undermine the objectives of the safeguard measure.
“Accordingly, the U.S. Trade Representative has modified the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) to withdraw the exclusion of bifacial solar panels from application of the safeguard measure.”
Other types of solar panels that were also initially exempt from tariffs, such as solar cells without busbars or gridlines, continue to be exempt from tariffs.
As a result of the reversal of tariffs on bifacial solar panels, analysts report that it could have an adverse impact on solar deployment in the U.S., given the increased cost of these types of panels.
In making its decision to withdraw the tariff exclusion on bifacial solar panels, the Trade Representative’s office noted that, after evaluating newly available information from various sources demonstrating that global production of bifacial solar panels has been increasing as a result of not being subject to tariff, it was clear that the exclusion would likely result in “significant increases in imports of bifacial solar panels,” which would compete with single and double-sided panels manufactured in the United States.