The Suniva Solar 201 Safeguard trade case, which is seeking protection from the lower prices of imported silicon solar cells and panels, from the US International Trade Commission will be heard by the ITC on Aug. 15. The case has roiled the US solar industry as the bankrupt company has put potentially hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk. However, Suniva and SolarWorld US supported a new report claiming tariffs would create tens of thousands of jobs.
Suniva and SolarWorld are both facing bankruptcy. SolarWorld US’s German parent file for insolvency earlier this year, but the US arm continues to manufacture in Oregon. Ahead of the hearings supported new research from Wiley Rein, which contended that such tariffs could create a net increase of over 114,800 new jobs across all segments of the US solar industry, including 45,000 new manufacturing jobs.
However, the majority of the solar industry disagrees with such assessments. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) previously asserted that such tariffs could cost the industry more than 90,000 jobs.
As such, SEIA filed a prehearing brief on behalf of the solar industry, which currently employs more than 260,000 people across more than 800 companies throughout the US. Even other US solar manufacturers including First Solar and SunPower (both of which manufacture domestically and internationally) have not supported Suniva’s petition.
In its brief SEIA stated: “In this case, the facts do not warrant trade relief. In other words: good law, bad case.” It added, the “Petitioners portray themselves as the backbone of U.S. solar manufacturing, yet both SolarWorld and Suniva rely on imported cells and/or modules to survive. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the US solar manufacturing industry rejects the petitioners’ arguments and stands with SEIA.”
SEIA explained that solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing of silicon panels are important, but currently represent less than 1 percent of the 260,000 jobs the US solar industry has. It went further to observe that that’s less than the more than 35,000 other US solar manufacturing jobs.
SEIA also stated that the solar industry has continued to see record growth. “The U.S. solar industry grew twenty-fold from 0.1 percent of total U.S. electricity generation in 2010 to approximately 1.4 percent today. It is projected to pass 3 percent in 2020 and 5 percent in 2022,” the organization said. Moreover, of the 260,000 jobs, 51,000 were created in 2016, “the fourth straight year of 20+ percent workforce growth.”
Suniva and SolarWorld would have to show that the domestic industry has suffered serious injury and it was mainly caused by increased imports, according to SEIA. But it said the companies can't prove those things.Tweet