US President Joe Biden is taking steps to boost the solar energy sector in the United States. Biden aims to revitalize renewable energy projects in the country, which have been stalled by a trade dispute with China and boost domestic solar production.
Biden plans to invoke the Defense Production Act to provide support for US-made solar panels, insiders say. Earlier, the president already used this war law to tackle the shortage of baby milk powder in the country. Details of the plan are expected to be announced as early as Monday. The president wants to ensure that the US climate efforts are less dependent on foreign suppliers.
At the same time, the president will not introduce new import tariffs on solar equipment for the next two years so that domestic project developers can continue to use foreign-made equipment while ramping up production domestically. Tariffs on solar equipment had been introduced precisely because domestic manufacturers are struggling to compete with cheaper products from China.
US clean energy projects were hampered by a Department of Commerce investigation. That investigation has led some exporters to stop or delay sales of equipment to the US. The US Department has investigated whether some Chinese companies are circumventing the decade-old tariffs by assembling solar cells and panels in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, countries that now account for about 80 percent of annual panel imports into the US.
The case fueled fears that these Chinese companies will still have to pay the tariffs retroactively, causing manufacturers to stop deliveries to the US and delay solar projects. That disruption undermines the US’s fight against climate change and Biden’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector. Biden, however, would take no action to dismiss the case. The Ministry of Commerce will release preliminary findings in the case at the end of August.