First Solar joins call for measures in solar trade case
First Solar PV plant. Source: First Solar Inc
First Solar Inc (NASDAQ:FSLR) has joined the Section 201 solar trade case by urging the US International Trade Commission (ITC) to impose remedies that will protect the US solar manufacturing industry from imports of photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules.
The recommendation was made in a letter by First Solar’s CEO Mark Widmar to the ITC, filed last Tuesday. Although it is no longer involved in the production of crystalline silicon (CS) PV cells, the thin-film module maker and solar project developer has an opinion. It believes that "US CSPV producers will not get the breathing space they need unless CSPV import prices rise to rational levels and this overcapacity is addressed."
The letter says the US CSPV industry should not be "left to die" just to save demand and downstream solar jobs and it criticises the US Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) for not engaging constructively in the issue.
"I firmly believe that the Commission can design an effective remedy that allows solar demand to continue to flourish,” Widmar wrote. He did not offer a particular solution, unlike Suniva Inc and SolarWorld Americas Inc, which proposed import tariffs on CS PV cells, import quotas and minimum selling prices.
The Section 201 solar trade case was launched in April by Suniva, which at the time sought relief against solar imports from all geographic sources.
According one of its main rivals in the US solar market, First Solar may be benefiting from the current uncertainty related to the trade case. SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) CEO Tom Werner told the ITC early in October, as cited by Reuters, that the company lost a “multi-hundred million dollar opportunity” to First Solar as the latter could offer price certainty. California-based SunPower has manufacturing plants in Asia, more specifically in Malaysia and the Philippines, as wells as in France and Mexico, so it is now awaiting the ITC decision.
After accepting recommendations, the ITC has to present its injury determination and remedy recommendations to President Donald Trump by November 13, 2017. He will then decide whether to impose tariffs or other remedies, as well as their form, amount and duration.
Veselina Petrova is one of Renewables Now's most experienced green energy writers. For several years she has been keeping track of game-changing events both large and small projects and across the globe.