The US solar market is facing disruptions due to the uncertainty around import rules created by new laws and legal challenges, according to the world’s biggest panel producer.
Longi Green Energy Technology Co. has faced significant challenges in its US operations over the past two years, company president Li Zhenguo said in an group interview Saturday. Longi is among companies that have had more than 1,000 solar shipments detained at US ports in recent months after a new law went into effect restricting goods made in China’s Xinjiang region, Reuters reported earlier this month.
“On the one hand, the US market urgently needs solar modules in the context of energy transition,” Li said. “On the other hand, due to these policies, there are relatively large obstacles and difficulties for such products to enter the US market from outside of the country.”
Chinese companies that dominate the global solar industry began to see shipments to the US disrupted last year under policies targeting a major Xijiang manufacturer of silicon, a key component for panels. That was augmented by a separate investigation into whether Chinese companies circumvented tariffs by offshoring some work into Southeast Asia.
The latest blow was the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which went into effect in June and bars all goods made in Xinjiang unless they can prove their manufactured without forced labor. Xinjiang is home to much of the solar industry’s silicon prodution and refining capacity. China’s foreign ministry has repeatedly denied the forced labor claims, labeling them as an attempt to undercut Chinese businesses.
Shipping interruptions have led to significant project delays in the US, and slowed the country’s clean power growth. The US Solar Energy Industries Association forecasts the country will install 15.7 gigawatts of solar energy in 2022, the lowest in three years, as a result of the detention of modules.
Li expects global solar demand next year to greatly increase with the Chinese market being the main driver, and the company is confident about growth in regions outside of the US, such as Europe. As for the US market, its outlook depends on its policies, Li said.
“We can not offer accurate judgment of which direction it will go,” he said.