Feds can help U.S. solar manufacturers fend off China — report

By Christian Robles | 03/21/2024 07:09 AM EDT

The Solar Energy Manufacturers of America called for aggressive enforcement of trade laws and stricter requirements on clean energy tax credits.

Solar panels on a factory assembly line.

Solar panels are manufactured at a plant in Walbridge, Ohio. Tony Dejak/AP

U.S. solar manufacturers need more help from the federal government to overcome China’s dominance in the industry, according to a new trade group report that calls for the aggressive enforcement of trade laws.

The report — written by consulting firm Guidehouse and commissioned by the Solar Energy Manufacturers for America Coalition (SEMA) — urges a “whole-of-government approach” to strengthen the solar industry’s U.S. supply chain. It recommends stricter domestic content requirements for clean energy tax credits, new financial penalties for violators of trade laws and federal procurement policies that incentivize American-sourced solar panels.

“The [Inflation Reduction Act] set the stage and generated a lot of excitement, … but of course, our trading adversaries have responded,” SEMA President Mike Carr told reporters in a Wednesday call unveiling the report. U.S. solar manufacturers, he added, “really do need some more help, not necessarily new legislation but a whole-of-government approach.”


Solar manufacturers have long warned that cheap Chinese imports of solar panels — as well as components like cells, wafers, ingots and polysilicon — threaten to derail the slew of U.S. manufacturing projects announced after the climate law’s 2022 passage. While the U.S. has placed tariffs on Chinese solar imports and sought to block goods made with forced labor, some Chinese companies have worked around trade laws by sending products through Southeast Asian countries.