Four U.S. Senators penned a letter to President Joe Biden asking for increased tariffs on Chinese-made solar wafer, cell and module imports under Sec. 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) addressed the letter last week. It can be read here.
According to a recent Wood Mackenzie study, the price of a solar panel manufactured in China in 2023 dropped to 15¢/W, more than 60% below the price of an American-made panel. The Senators argue China’s heavily subsidized products are hurting U.S. efforts to reshore domestic solar manufacturing.
“China’s aggressive subsidies for its own solar manufacturing industry demonstrate its intent to control the industry globally,” the Senators wrote. “By 2026, China will have enough capacity to meet annual global demand for the next ten years. This capacity is an existential threat to the U.S. solar industry and American energy security.”
While American solar manufacturing announcements have increased since passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the Senators say more is needed to strengthen the American manufacturing base.
“These heavily subsidized and artificially low prices put U.S. solar manufacturers at an extreme disadvantage during a critical turning point in the development of the domestic solar manufacturing industry,” they continued. “Section 301 tariffs are needed to avoid dire consequences not only for our economic and national security, but also for the thousands of workers employed by these manufacturers.”
Sec. 301 tariffs have been in place on some Chinese solar products, including inverters and AC modules, since 2018. The United States imports very few solar panels directly from China, so it is unknown how much market impact increased Sec. 301 tariffs would have.