New Data Confirms Department of Commerce Inquiry Severely Disrupts U.S. Utility-Scale Solar Market
ACP market survey of U.S. solar projects shows major delays, potential layoffs
On April 19, the American Clean Power Association (ACP) released new data from a survey of over 150 individual solar projects on the immediate impacts of a Department of Commerce inquiry that could apply retroactive tariffs to most solar modules used in the U.S., finding a 65% or more reduction of planned and forecasted crystalline-silicon solar project installations across 2022–2023. Crystalline-silicon is the dominant semiconducting material used in the production of solar cells.
The Commerce Department’s inquiry has left the U.S. solar industry without a clear understanding of the risk that developers face from the possibility of unpredictable retroactive tariffs. ACP found that the uncertainty of potential retroactive tariffs is forcing companies to delay or cancel over 24GW of projects and consider laying off 38,000 Americans – equivalent to more than a third of the entire utility-scale solar workforce. The data also indicates that, without a swift resolution, the case could cause $30 billion in lost economic investment.
The uncertainty of the scale of these potential tariffs, perpetuated by the Department of Commerce and the Biden administration, is having severe impacts on a domestic solar industry that the administration itself says needs to grow faster than ever. ACP found that the implications of this uncertainty will cause a 47% reduction in President Biden’s solar goal of 81GW of new solar capacity across 2022-2023.
Furthermore, in entertaining this case, the Department of Commerce is upending its own decade-long precedent on solar module tariffs – all to appease the rogue actor who brought this case without the backing of a single other domestic manufacturing company.
The solutions for ensuring increased domestic manufacturing – manufacturing incentives – are artfully designed and included in the House-passed reconciliation legislation. But in considering tariffs, the Department of Commerce is resorting to a failed solution that has proven not to meaningfully increase domestic manufacturing throughout the past decade.
The results from ACP’s study are more than just numbers on a page. Behind each data point are proud men and women that power clean energy in America, who are rightfully questioning why President Biden’s own administration is imperiling their livelihoods. President Biden and the Department of Commerce must swiftly dismiss this inquiry for what it is – a self-serving attempt by one lone company to game the system to the detriment of the domestic solar industry – and guarantee certainty for the Americans building our clean energy future.