By Brian Eckhouse, Christopher Martin and Ari Natter
First Solar, the largest U.S. solar panel maker, and SunPower both gained in after-markets trading late Friday.
What BloombergNEF Says
“The withdraw of tariff exemption for bifacial will cool down its popularity in the U.S. a little, but not stop the rise of the technology, which introduces improved economics even without tariff exemption.”
— Xiaoting Wang, solar analyst
Developers that have used bifacial panels and stand to take a hit from ending the exclusion include Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. and Swinerton Inc.
While bifacial panels accounted for just 3% of the solar market last year, BloombergNEF had projected a swift ramp-up in production as manufacturers tried to insulate themselves from U.S. tariffs.
The trade group Solar Energy Industries Association fought to preserve the exemption, saying bifacial technology held “great promise for creating jobs, right here in America.”
“We’re obviously disappointed,” the group’s general counsel, John Smirnow, said Friday. “We look forward to making sure the bifacial exemption gets a fair hearing” during the solar tariff’s mid-term review process, he said.
The U.S. Trade Representative said in its filing that the exclusion would’ve probably resulted in “significant increases in imports of bifacial solar panels” that would’ve rivaled domestically produced ones.
SunPower, based in San Jose, California, opposed the exemption without a cap, saying that it would otherwise defeat the purpose of the tariffs. “It just means everyone is going to make a bifacial,” the company’s chief executive officer, Tom Werner, said in a Sept. 23 interview.