WASHINGTON — The Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) today applauded a letter from U.S. Senators Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) urging President Joe Biden to increase tariffs on Chinese-made solar module, cell, and wafer imports under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.
According to a recent economic report, in 2023, the price of a solar panel manufactured in China dropped to 15 cents per watt, more than 60% below the price of a U.S.-made panel. The Senators argued China’s heavily subsidized products are hurting U.S. efforts to reshore domestic solar manufacturing — a key energy security goal. A recent article in Time documents that China’s “global market share is over 80%, a near monopoly.”
A recent analysis from CPA’s Economics Team shows that “a new tidal wave of solar imports from China—combined with Biden administration decisions—could put” the success of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which is spurring dramatic new investment in U.S. manufacturing capacity, in jeopardy. This massive overproduction is creating an excessive global supply of solar panels, leading to rapid price-cutting. According to industry sources, utilities currently pay roughly 35 cents a watt for solar panels. However, they’re already placing orders for next year at price points falling to 25 cents/watt. Customs data shows that solar module imports in the first seven months of 2023 were up 179% over the same period last year. The monthly figures are even worse. In January 2022 the U.S. imported $422 million worth of solar modules. A year and a half later, in July 2023, imports came in at $1.7 billion, four times greater.
A New York Times piece warns that the Biden administration’s renewable energy goals are “facing a familiar threat: a surge of low-priced products from China.” Although some “Biden officials are concerned that Chinese products could again threaten the survival of U.S. factories when the government is spending huge sums to jump-start domestic manufacturing,” the Biden administration’s trade actions and rules to implement the IRA have done more to help China strengthen its global monopoly. Biden has protected China’s illegal trade activity, allowing China to dump cheap panels and flood the U.S. market. Additionally, the Biden administration has yet to finalize guidance on the IRA’s domestic content bonus that would incentivize the full reshoring of the domestic solar supply chain, including the domestic production of wafers and polysilicon.