US Revokes Exemptions on Bifacial Solar Panels for the Second Time

The revocation will be effective on May 18, 2020


The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has withdrawn the exclusion of bifacial solar panels from safeguard measures, applicable on imported panels. The revocation will be effective, starting May 18, 2020.

In its notice, the USTR said that in January, it started looking into whether to maintain, withdraw, or take some other action concerning the exclusion of bifacial solar panels from the safeguard measure.

It stated that based on an evaluation of comments received, and responses to those comments, and in consultation with the secretaries of commerce and energy, it determined that the exclusion on bifacial solar panels was undermining the objectives of the safeguard measure.

This is the second time the exemption is being revoked after it was first revoked in October 2019, only to be reinstated by the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) in December 2019.

Previously, Mercom reported that the Office of the United States Trade Representative withdrew the exclusion of bifacial modules from the ambit of safeguard measures that were applicable on imported solar equipment. The change in policy took effect on October 28, 2019, and a 25% duty was imposed on bifacial modules. The USTR also modified the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) to withdraw the exclusion of bifacial solar panels from the application of the safeguard measure. The USTR also modified the HTSUS to make certain technical changes in connection with the safeguard measure.

In June 2019, the USTR issued an order exempting bifacial and a few other types of solar panels from the levy of newly-imposed safeguard duty of 25%. The exemption came into effect on June 13, 2019. It exempted bifacial solar panels that absorb light and generate electricity on each side of the panel and that consist of only bifacial solar cells that absorb light and generate electricity on each side of the cells; flexible fiberglass solar panels without glass components other than fiberglass, such panels having power outputs ranging from 250 to 900 watts.

Several module suppliers from China have been pitching bifacial modules to Indian solar developers because of its better output, but the cost has been a major impediment. Once prices become competitive, bifacial solar modules could be a good fit for large-scale solar projects in states like Rajasthan, which has the highest irradiation levels in the country.

Nithin Thomas is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Previously with Reuters News, he has covered oil, metals and agricultural commodity markets across global markets. He has also covered refinery and pipeline explosions, oil and gas leaks, Atlantic region hurricane developments, and other natural disasters. Nithin holds a Masters Degree in Applied Economics from Christ University, Bangalore and a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from Loyola College, Chennai. More articles from Nithin.