Solar industry offers U.S. Department of Commerce strong evidence to reach negative determination in solar circumvention investigation

Press Release

May 4 2022

  • Recent filings with the Department of Commerce make a strong case to rebut, clarify or correct information submitted by Auxin Solar, Inc.
  • New facts, supported by expert analysis, demonstrate that circumvention is not occurring in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. In fact, companies in these countries are complying with the Department’s previous rulings that cell production is the key process in solar manufacturing.
  • Multiple solar industry players have commented this week how their solar deployment and investments and U.S. solar jobs are rapidly being destroyed due to Commerce’s initiation of an investigation.
  • Commerce should make a negative determination as soon as possible.

WASHINGTON DC, May 4 – This week a number of companies formally submitted responses to the U.S. Department of Commerce or have commented regarding the circumvention ruling filed by Auxin Solar, Inc., providing the Department strong evidence and precedent to reach a negative determination in its solar circumvention investigation affecting imports from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

“The vast majority of the U.S. solar energy industry opposes the Department of Commerce’s investigation into solar imports from select southeast Asian countries,” said Heather Zichal, chief executive officer, the American Clean Power Association.

“This week’s filings clearly refute the strained assertion that solar panels coming from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam are circumventing duties in place on Chinese solar cells and panels,” Zichal continued. “The Department’s investigation is having a devastating impact on the whole of the U.S. solar industry, as evidenced by this week’s comments by many solar industry players, and we implore Sec. Raimondo to reach a negative determination as soon as possible.”

The U.S. solar industry is united in its view that Commerce’s circumvention investigation is causing irreparable harm to U.S. solar deployment, undermining the administration’s clean energy goals, eliminating tens of thousands of American jobs and making electricity more expensive.

This information is supported by ACP’s recent report which found that 24 GW, or $30 billion in economic investments, would be delayed or canceled in just the next two years. The Boston Consulting Group, a respected independent third party, concluded that $100 billion in economic activity over the next five years would be jeopardized.

Also, over the last several days, a bi-partisan coalition of lawmakers and other interested parties have directly petitioned Sec. Raimondo to quickly end the Department’s investigation due to the harm it is doing to the U.S. solar industry. A few examples of these petitions include:

  • A letter from a bi-partisan coalition of 22 United States Senators to Sec. Raimondo, which states, “Initiation of the investigation is already negatively impacting the U.S. solar industry, and the longer this situation persists, the more acute the damage will be. Accordingly, we strongly urge your administration to make an expedited preliminary determination in this matter and carefully consider the significant policy ramifications on American businesses, workers, and ratepayers.”
  • A letter from California Gov. Gavin Newsom to Sec. Raimondo, where he says, “Given the threat posed to the grid from extreme heat, wildfires, and a severe drought that has reduced our hydroelectric generation capacity, we need to accelerate, not slow down the deployment of clean energy and storage projects. I respectfully urge you to take immediate action to resolve this issue as soon as possible and restore certainty in the market.”
  • A letter from Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb to Sec. Raimondo, which states, “I urge the Department of Commerce to reach a determination as quickly as possible to restore clarity and certainty regarding solar products, so the State of Indiana, our utilities, and other private sector partners can better understand and plan for an economical energy transition, in which solar is poised to play a key role.”

Similarly, a number of unions have come out in opposition against the investigation and have asked the Commerce Department to quickly reach a negative determination. A letter from the Laborers’ International Union of North America to Sec. Raimondo says, “However, due to the Department of Commerce taking up Auxin’s petition, the growth of the U.S. solar industry has stopped dead in its tracks, which will inevitably lead to more layoffs as companies can no longer employ workers without panels to start or complete projects. This is the single most existential crisis to the American solar industry and the jobs it supports.”

One company’s filing this week included three expert reports that support a finding of negative determination of circumvention, as follows:

  • A report by Mr. Denis De Ceuster, which explains the technology and processing steps along the CSPV solar supply chain. These steps, which are consistent with Commerce’s own findings over the last decade, show that the wafer-to-cell stage is a “significant transformation” of the component which occurs outside China.
  • A submission of data and analysis by Clean Energy Associates LLC, which demonstrates that capital expenditures for cell production – the process taking place in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam – on a per-watt basis are far greater than earlier stages of production which occur in China, hence supporting a conclusion that “significant transformation” is occurring outside China.
  • A report by FTI Consulting, Inc., which shows how Auxin and the Commerce Department relied on faulty assertions in a BloombergNEF (BNEF) report, which are contradicted by BNEF’s own data, Auxin’s own statements and other public information. FTI also corroborates CEA’s analysis that capital expenditures for cell production on a per-watt basis are far greater than earlier stages of production.
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