by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Collin Anderson of the Washington Free Beacon reports an inconvenient aspect of the green energy industry’s business model.
The green energy industry is scrambling as Congress pushes forward with legislation that would impose costly tariffs on Chinese solar panels, a move that industry leaders say would cripple their business given their overwhelming reliance on cheap Chinese suppliers.
The House on Friday passed a bipartisan bill to restore tariffs on Chinese solar panels sold out of Southeast Asia, tariffs that President Joe Biden suspended last year in an attempt to “satisfy the demand for reliable and clean energy.” The legislation has already garnered support among some Senate Democrats, reflecting s significant possibility that the bill will become law.
For the green energy industry, that possibility marks a full-blown disaster.
China controls more than 80 percent of the world’s solar panel production, a figure that hasn’t waned as Biden spends hundreds of billions of dollars on green energy subsidies intended to give the United States the ability to “compete with China.” Instead, U.S. solar companies have been flooded with increased demand and have turned to China to satisfy it. A reimposition of Chinese solar tariffs would cost U.S. developers at least $1 billion in retroactive fees, prompting solar executives and trade groups to publicly stress their need to maintain a free flow of cheap Chinese goods.
The Solar Energy Industries Association, for example, admitted in a Friday statement that the United States “cannot produce enough solar panels and cells to meet demand.” The American Council on Renewable Energy similarly said Chinese tariffs “would have a devastating impact on U.S. solar deployment.” Solar energy contractor George Hershman, meanwhile, said tariffs would prompt him to lay off “thousands of people,” given the hundreds of millions of dollars in projects that his company, SOLV Energy, has fulfilled using Chinese goods. “I don’t know why anyone would support this,” Hershman told the Washington Post.