Washington’s sanctions on Chinese solar panels: US domestic deployment falls by 50% – global prices up by 30-40%

The US publication pv magazine reported on 16 August 2022 that a large quantity of Chinese solar panels had been seized by US customs authorities. The seizure were carried out under US anti-China legislation, the so-called “Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act” (UFLPA).

The legislation is one of many US government actions designed to wage economic warfare against China and to undermine adoption of affordable renewable energy. The US is both the world’s largest producer and the largest consumer of oil, and has the world’s highest per capita emissions of CO2.

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The pv magazine cited US industry sources had reported that as much as 3 GW of Chinese solar equipment had been seized since the law came into effect in mid-2022. These sources said that as much as 12 GW of solar equipment were likely to be seized and “prevented from entering the US market by the end of the year.”

NPR reports that a related, massive US Department of Commerce investigation focusing on whether Chinese manufacturers could be “skirting US customs duty rules” on solar imports from China by “funneling components through affiliates in four nearby countries — Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam”.

Industry bodies in the US say that “hundreds of large-scale solar power projects are on hold in the US” as the solar industry awaits the outcome of the investigation into solar panels bought from Asian suppliers. According to the Financial Times, 7 June, 2022:

More generally, China supplies roughly 80% of global production of silicon used to make polycrystalline wafers for solar panels – which does not need to be as pure as the silicon used in semiconductors — with about half of that coming from Xinjiang, the main target of the US regime’ anti-solar energy sanctions (i.e. economic warfare).

According to Niki Asia (4 July 2021), US sanctions against the Chinese solar manufacturing industry “are now casting a shadow over the solar industry” as “one of the world’s biggest sources of silicon.” This has resulted in market instability as solar panel makers and buyers became concerned about the potential disruptions to global supply chains and manufactures hurried to build up silicon stock piles. It has, according Niki Asia significantly pushed up the price of solar panels by around 30-40%. 

The pv magazine reported that these sanctions by the Washington regime is also causing a serious decline of up to 50% in US domestic solar deployment. The article reported that the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) had said that developers across the US had planned to install 17.8 GW of new solar capacity in 2022. However, in the first six months of this year, “only 4.2 GW has been installed and brought online as module supply challenges led to cancellations and delays”, and this trend was expected to continue.

In June 2022, following bitter internal division within the US, Biden exempted solar panel imports from Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam from tariffs (up to 240%) in order to get stalled solar power project moving.

China has repeatedly denied US allegations of so-called “slave labor” in Xinjiang. Earlier this month delegation of 32 envoys and senior diplomats from 30 Muslim-majority countries have paid a 5-day visit to China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region at the invitation of China. The envoys were widely reported to have found that “freedom of religious belief and various rights of Muslims are duly guaranteed” in Xinjiang.


PV Magazine, August 16, 2022. https://www.pv-magazine.com/2022/08/16/more-than-3-gw-of-solar-panels-held-by-us-customs-under-forced-labor-law/

NPR, May 11, 2022. https://www.npr.org/2022/05/11/1097644931/solar-panels-solar-power-u-s-investigates-china-trade-rules