| April 26
April 26 Bankrupt U.S. solar panel maker Suniva
on Wednesday asked federal trade officials to recommend new
duties on imported solar products to combat a global oversupply
of panels that has depressed prices and made American producers
unable to compete.
The company, which was founded in Georgia but sold a
majority stake to Hong Kong-based Shunfeng International Clean
Energy in 2015, filed a rare Section 201 petition with
the U.S. International Trade Commission nine days after seeking
Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The petition is the latest trade dispute to plague the U.S.
The U.S. arm of Germany's Solarworld AG succeeded
twice since 2012 in convincing the U.S. to set duties on solar
products from China and Taiwan, albeit through a different
Because of those duties, manufacturers have shifted
production of solar panels destined for the U.S. market to other
countries in Asia. Suniva's petition would apply to solar cells
and modules manufactured in any nation.
If successful, the petition could drive up the price of U.S.
solar systems, harming project developers and installers.
The U.S. solar trade group, the Solar Energy Industries
Association, said it opposed the petition.
"One of the things that's tough is how much uncertainty
there is in this process," said MJ Shiao, director of research
at research firm GTM Research. "You don't know necessarily what
the price is going to be."
Worldwide, solar panel manufacturers are grappling with a
more than 30 percent drop in prices since early 2016.
Suniva's debtor-in-possession financing from SQN was
contingent in part on filing the Section 201 petition.
Under Section 201, Suniva must convince the ITC that the
U.S. industry has suffered "serious injury" because of imports.
If it does, then the Commission could recommend relief measures
to the president such as tariffs or volume limitations.
President Trump would make a final decision on whether to
provide relief and, if so, what type. Final approval from the
president is a key difference in the Section 201 process
compared with prior solar trade cases.
Suniva is seeking a duty rate of 40 cents per watt on solar
cells and a floor price on modules of 78 cents a watt for the
first year, levels unseen since 2012 on imported Chinese
modules, according to GTM Research.
"Without today's requested global safeguard, the U.S. solar
manufacturing industry will die," Suniva Executive Vice
President of Commercial Operations Matt Card said in a
(Reporting by Nichola Groom)