One of the solar industry’s lesser-known, yet most innovative, pieces of technology has been given a reprieve by U.S. trade officials. Bifacial modules (i.e. double-sided solar panels), which generate energy by receiving the sunlight on both the front and back, have been exempted from a 25% trade tariff. The tariff on solar equipment applies to pretty much any country with a sizeable solar manufacturing industry.
This little victory for the solar sector comes as part of the second round of such exemptions since the Trump administration initially imposed 30% tariffs on most imported solar modules back in January of 2018. As noted above, this tariff has since fallen to 25%.
As things stand, bifacial solar technology makes up a very small part of the solar industry here in the United States. Most of the larger manufacturers of bifacial modules are located overseas and, globally, bifacial solar installations comprise less than 1% of the total installed capacity worldwide.
Nonetheless, it’s a part of the solar industry which has been growing and, though the impact of this exemption remains to be seen, this lucky escape for bifacial solar developers could improve the prospects of the bifacial technology moving forward. Perhaps that global 1% figure noted above will see a notable rise in the near future.
The initial tariffs imposed back in January 2018 saw the construction of new projects stagnate somewhat after a period of real growth for the industry. It’s possible that the availability of cheaper solar cells, in the shape of these bifacial modules, could be a real shot in the arm for bifacial solar market across the United States.
U.S. trade officials stated that this will be the final exemption they grant on solar equipment tariffs. The agency began receiving appeals in February 2018 following the initial 30% tariff and it has now reviewed all requests submitted since that time. The tariffs on solar equipment will step down across a four-year period and the agency has suggested that it may open up an avenue for the submission of exclusion requests, dependent on the development of the market.
By Shane Croghan