The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is now accepting public comments on whether bifacial solar modules should continue to receive an exemption from the Section 201 tariff. Comments will be accepted online through Feb. 17, 2020.
Tariffs on all imported solar panels — not just those coming from China — were first initiated in 2018. Bifacial modules received full exclusion in June 2019 before its exemption was revoked in October 2019. The U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) stepped in and reinstated the exemption in December 2019.
The USTR is opening up the bifacial exemption to comments because it is concerned that increased imports of untariffed bifacial solar panels will undermine the objectives of the original solar panel tariff. It is also seeking a more precise definition of a bifacial module.
The solar panel tariff currently stands at 20%, with bifacial modules and some panels using interdigitated back contact (IBC) technology the only panel types exempt from the tariffs.
Previous U.S. module manufacturing powerhouse Suniva, who requested the tariffs and then went out of business, was present at a midterm hearing on the tariffs asking for bifacial modules to be removed from exemption and for the quota of untariffed solar cells entering the country to stay low at 2.5 GW. The company continues to express that imported solar panels hurts American manufacturing, even though U.S. demand for solar panels far exceeds the capacity available from American module makers. SEIA predicts that the tariffs have caused nearly 10.5 GW of solar contracts to be canceled.