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Status of US-China Solar Trade Petition, & What Needs To Be Done

Image Credit: China--US puzzle pieces via Shutterstock

In recent media coverage of the US–China solar trade petition, there has been an uptick in predictions that all parties are headed toward a negotiated settlement. I hear these sentiments echoed in my conversations with solar companies who are choosing to wait and see how the SolarWorld petition plays out rather than speak out in favor of a negotiated solution.

Unfortunately, despite these reports, recent events and evidence suggests that this outcome continues to be an uphill battle. In the current state of play, a settlement between the parties is more unlikely than likely, which means the solar industry will remain stuck with the frustrating status quo of legal uncertainty and higher prices.

This does not, however, mean that progress hasn’t been made. The Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) involvement in pushing for a resolution to this petition is very encouraging. And it is a positive first step that the solar industry has coalesced around SEIA’s proposed settlement.

In order to bring any measure of long-term certainty to the solar industry, the United States and China must begin settlement talks. But the two countries will not do this without SolarWorld’s cooperation. Although initial overtures are ongoing, full-blown negotiations are still not happening.

All the while, the US solar industry continues to face unnecessary price increases on solar products as we inch closer to the Department of Commerce’s June 2 deadline for a preliminary determination. If the new tariffs go into effect, businesses across the country will be forced to cancel projects and lay off workers. This is a message that will resonate with officials in the Obama Administration who have the power to bring the parties to the table and negotiate an equitable agreement.

Now is not the time to remain on the sidelines. Solar companies threatened by higher module prices must make their voices heard – by writing an op-ed for the local paper, meeting with their representatives in Congress or adding information about the trade case to their website. The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) is ready to help members with all of these activities, and I encourage you to learn more today.

The future of solar in the United States is not a zero sum game. By negotiating an equitable settlement, we can ensure the conditions for the industry’s growth, including SolarWorld’s, and reach a win-win solution for all parties. We still have a long way to go before a resolution to the trade petition becomes a reality, but with vocal support from the overwhelming majority of the solar industry, we will be that much closer.

Image Credit: China–US puzzle pieces via Shutterstock

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Written By

is a co-founder at Generate Capital and the author of Creating Climate Wealth: Unlocking the Impact Economy, 2013 Icosa Publishing. Shah unlocked the multi-billion-dollar worldwide solar industry with a business model innovation (Power Purchase Agreement), not a new technology. This model created SunEdison, once the largest solar services companies worldwide. Jigar Shah has shown that business model innovation applied to the biggest challenge of our lifetime – climate change – will unlock a $10 trillion new economy. After SunEdison was sold in 2009, Jigar served through 2012 as the first CEO of the Carbon War Room — the global organization founded by Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Unite to help entrepreneurs address climate change. SunEdison and Carbon War Room proved that we could make positive change through business and financial model innovation in many industries. Today, as CEO of Jigar Shah Consulting, he works with global companies in a multitude of industries to deploy existing clean energy solutions fueled by new business models.


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