December 6 (Renewables Now) - Bifacial solar panels will remain on the list of photovoltaic (PV) products exempted from Section 201 tariffs on imports to the US until the lawfulness of the decision to exclude them is determined.
This is the decision of Judge Gary S. Katzmann of the US Court of International Trade in Manhattan.
Solar panels consisting only of bifacial PV cells were exempted from the import tariffs in June 2019, but in October the US Trade Representative (USTR) announced that the government has revised its decision as maintaining the exclusion would undermine the objectives of the safeguard measure.
The US announced the withdrawal with only 19 days’ notice to the public. It did not provide an opportunity for affected or interested parties to comment on it. A developed public record on which to base its decision was also missing. The withdrawal has been challenged by Invenergy Renewables LLC, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Clearway Energy Group LLP, EDF Renewables Inc and AES Distributed Energy Inc. These plaintiffs also sought a preliminary injunction to maintain the status quo until the lawfulness of the withdrawal is determined by final judgment.
In a Thursday order granting the motion for a preliminary injunction, Judge Katzmann said that the government “must follow its own laws and procedures when it acts, and the court finds it likely that it did not do so in withdrawing the Exclusion without adequate process”.
The safeguard tariffs on solar imports, announced in January 2018 by US President Donald Trump, are set to remain effective for four years. The duty in the first year was 30% and it decreases by five percentage points for each year the tariffs are in effect.
According to Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables senior solar analyst Xiaojing Sun, US projects that selected bifacial modules could not be cost-competitive without the tariff exemption.