US Brings Back Tariffs on Imported Bifacial Solar Modules

Importers with pre-existing contracts will have 90 days to use the exclusion

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The U.S. has announced it will bring back bifacial solar modules under Section 201 tariffs as the country clamps down on cheap clean energy technology entering its shores from China.

The exclusion for bifacial modules, widely used in utility-scale solar projects, was in force under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974. The exclusion, implemented by the previous administration, had led to a surge in imports.

By removing the exclusion, U.S. solar manufacturers will gain increased tariff protection from cheaper imports, the White House said. However, importers with pre-existing contracts for bifacial modules to be delivered within 90 days will still benefit from the exclusion for that period.

The U.S. is also ending the “solar bridge” program initiated in June 2022 for duty-free imports of certain solar products from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The “bridge” had been established to ensure the deployment of solar capacity while the domestic manufacturing base ramped up. It will end on June 6, 2024.

Last month, U.S. solar manufacturers filed a trade petition against solar imports from Southeast Asia as they were found to be circumventing anti-dumping and countervailing duties on solar manufacturers from China by building new facilities in these countries.

The Department of Commerce requires installing imported duty-free panels within 180 days to prevent stockpiling during the solar bridge program’s final months.

In addition to trade actions, the U.S. is also taking steps to support domestic solar manufacturing through incentives and research funding. The Department of Treasury is issuing further guidance on the Inflation Reduction Act’s bonus tax credit for clean energy projects that source domestic iron, steel, and manufactured products. This includes a new elective safe harbor allowing developers to rely on default cost percentages provided by the Department of Energy (DOE) to determine bonus eligibility.

The U.S. said it may increase the 5 GW tariff-rate quota for imported solar cells by 7.5 GW if imports approach the current quota level, ensuring domestic producers can access necessary components during this transition period.

On the research front, the DOE announced over $70 million to develop new solar technologies across the supply chain, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These 18 projects aim to address gaps in domestic manufacturing capabilities for equipment, ingots, wafers, and various solar cell types.

Earlier this week, the U.S. announced stiff hikes in tariffs on solar cells, electric vehicles, batteries, and critical minerals originating from China. This decision follows a review of the findings of a Section 301 investigation, which examined China’s unfair trade practices, including technology transfer, intellectual property violations, and innovation infringements.

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