Aug 9 (Renewables Now) - Suniva Inc and SolarWorld Americas Inc should not blame foreign imports for their inability to compete on the US solar market, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
The trade body and others have submitted pre-hearing written arguments to the US International Trade Commission (ITC), which has until September 22 to make an injury determination in the solar imports case that followed Suniva’s Section 201 petition. SEIA blames Suniva and SolarWorld’s troubles on “a series of damaging business decisions” and “technical failures” and says that the petitioners cannot satisfy the legal standards required in the injury phase of the global safeguard investigation of crystalline silicon (C-Si) solar cells and modules.
SEIA examines Suniva and SolarWorld’s main failures, such as the fact that both companies did not invest in 72-cell module production lines to be able to supply such products in quantities sought by developers of utility-scale projects in the US.
“Therefore, to meet utility-scale demand, increasing [C-Si PV] imports were pulled into the US utility market – they did not “flood” the market –to supply developers with necessary products,” the association stressed.
The two petitions focused their business relationships and customer acquisition on retail, but SEIA says in retail segments the domestic industry actually saw a rise in shipments so foreign imports cannot be blamed. Suniva and SolarWorld have missed key opportunities there as both have failed to fully qualify their photovoltaic (PV) products with major retail purchasers, such as Sunrun Inc (NASDAQ:RUN) and Vivint Solar Inc (NYSE:VSLR). They have also received multiple complaints from dissatisfied customers over “late shipments, damaged products, and general product unreliability”, SEIA’s brief says.
“Petitioners portray themselves as the backbone of US solar manufacturing, yet both SolarWorld and Suniva rely on imported cells and/or modules to survive,” the association added.