Suniva, the Chinese-owned, US-based solar manufacturer which instigated the Section 201 trade case that led to the imposition of 30% tariffs on all imported solar cells and modules, has been released from bankruptcy proceedings thanks to the intervention of SQN Capital Management.
In January of this year, US President Donald Trump decided to impose a 30% tariff on imported solar cells and modules, in response to a Section 201 trade case which was filed with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) by Suniva (and later joined by SolarWorld) back in April of 2017 (which I first covered in June 2017). The move was kicked off when Suniva was forced to file for bankruptcy, claiming that Chinese solar manufacturers were flooding the US market with their product, and squeezing out US-based manufacturers.
The argument had little substance to it and in August the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) hit out at Suniva and SolarWorld, explaining that instead of suffering from outside competition, the two companies had simply been unable to succeed in the ever-changing US solar market. Specifically, the SEIA pointed out that neither company produced 72-cell solar modules — a product that is dominant in utility-scale projects in the US.
“In the utility segment, the petitioners were unable to manufacture and supply 72-cell modules required to meet demand. Therefore, to meet utility-scale demand, increasing CSPV imports were pulled into the U.S. utility market — they did not “flood” the market — to supply developers with necessary products.”
Suffice it to say that Suniva and SolarWorld did not create a lot of friends in the process.
Nevertheless, investment management firm SQN Capital Management, which has been a Suniva shareholder since its days as a startup and subsequent to its majority acquisition by Shunfeng International Clean Energy (SFCE) in August 2015, has remained loyal to the company and has announced that it had acquired Suniva’s technology, licenses, and manufacturing capacity and, now that Suniva has been released from bankruptcy proceedings, is looking at plans to restart Suniva’s operations “as soon as possible.”
“It has been a long year but a fight worth fighting,” said Jeremiah Silkowski, CEO of SQN Capital Management. “We are pleased now to have multiple attractive options as we look toward Suniva’s future.”
The fight was so “worth fighting” that SQN described how proud it was of its role in “successfully supporting the petition of Suniva with the United States government for the protection of the domestic solar panel and module manufacturing industry” and praised the “extraordinary effort to stand up to the destructive foreign practices that led to more than 30 domestic solar companies being driven out of business” — which might sound like a worthy fight, if not for the fact that it barely touches on the reality of the situation and the subsequent impact that the sheer threat and the subsequent imposition of tariffs has had on the US solar industry.