L R AS Published on Monday 20 September 2021 - n° 374 - Categories:US policy
How can the straitjacket in which the US has placed itself be loosened?
On the one hand, they cannot ignore the forced labour in the Xinjiang region of China. On the other hand, they have to source cells and PV panels
This makes their supply more expensive if they want to fight climate change
All the US players are confident that solar will develop in their country. In California, solar and storage installations are required on new commercial and multi-unit residential buildings.
In 2020, 91% of installations were for commercial and large-scale power plants. Yet for the 20 GWp of annual installation demand, they have only 2 GWp of thin film cell production capacity and 5 GWp of imported cell assembly capacity to assemble panels. The country is far from self-sufficient in its own installations. A shock to the supply chain would probably block market growth, at least temporarily.
In 2020, there were several accidents in China's silicon industry that took significant amounts of capacity offline. The Chinese government also imposed controls on glass supply. Prices have risen
In 2021, a shortage of semiconductors affected inverter and tracker manufacturers, who also saw their costs rise, after years of absorbing margins and passing on higher costs to customers.
Shipping costs have increased
The situation in Xinjiang American politicians have taken up the issue. On 24 June, the US Department of Homeland Security ordered US Customs and Border Protection to issue a hold and release order (WRO) to detain silicon metal produced by Hoshine Silicon Industry Co. Ltd. and its subsidiaries because of the use of forced labour in its manufacturing facilities. Hoshine Silicon is the largest supplier of silicon metal in the world. The Chinese central government has banned audits of materials used by PV manufacturers.
US Customs and Border Protection has begun to hold cells and panels at the border, delaying projects and increasing costs and anxiety for solar developers or installers.
PV Magazine, 16 September 2021
Editor's note: Hence the dilemma, pay attention to the climate and let the Uighurs and their forced labour down. Or the other way round! But it will take years to rebuild a competitive photovoltaic industry. Should we support the Uighurs?