A U.S. Commerce Department trade probe that could result in tariffs against solar imports from Southeast Asian nations is already threatening clean energy projects, according to an advocacy group fighting the investigation.
At least 65% of U.S. solar capacity set to come online in 2022 and 2023 — equivalent to 24 gigawatts — is now at significant risk of cancellation or delay, according to results of a survey by the American Clean Power Association reviewed by Bloomberg News.
The assessment from renewable developers representing more than 150 active solar projects provides an early glimpse at disruption already prompted by the investigation.
Module makers in the four targeted nations — Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia — are halting deliveries to the U.S., and developers say they don’t have enough modules on hand to complete projects. That’s putting as much as $30 billion in planned investment in jeopardy, according to the ACP survey.
Respondents to a separate study by the Solar Energy Industries Association earlier this month raised similar concerns.
Despite headwinds, long-term renewable deployment shouldn’t be pushed off track, White House Deputy National Climate Adviser Ali Zaidi said Tuesday.
“While there is some appropriate short-term anxiety, folks are still pretty bullish about where we are going to be in two, three, four and 10 years,” Zaidi said at the BNEF Summit in New York. “There is good reason for that because we know how to take that stuff on.”
If the Commerce Department ultimately concludes that roughly decade-old tariffs against Chinese solar imports are being circumvented with deliveries from plants in the four Asian nations, those goods could be hit with retroactive tariffs — a risk that has prompted some manufacturers to suspend shipments to the U.S.
American solar manufacturing advocates argue cheap foreign imports undermine U.S. prospects for making and selling the equipment domestically. They also say that retroactive tariff risks are being exaggerated.