Quickly catch up on the latest solar industry news…
Bifacial Solar Panels:
In January 2018, the Trump Administration introduced new trade tariffs targeted against China. The tariffs started at 30% and are set to step down by 5% every year until they expire in 2022. In June, the U.S. removed the 25% tariff on bifacial solar panels, as there is no major U.S. manufacturer producing them; therefore, there is no industry to protect. Four months later, the Trump Administration announced that effective October 28, 2018, the exemption would be rescinded.
In the latest twist, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has successfully won a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the withdrawal of the Section 201 import tariffs exemption on the importation of bifacial solar modules. The TRO is effective for 14 days through Nov. 21 unless the court rules on the matter earlier.
Bifacial modules offer the potential for lower LCOE (Levelized Cost of Electricity), due to higher module output with both sides of the solar panel generating electricity. Learn more about bifacial modules and Melink’s testing.
SunPower announced on November 11 that it plans to spin off its manufacturing business with a nearly $300 million investment by China’s Tianjin Zhonghuan Semiconductor. The move would effectively split the company into two: one part focused on overseas solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing, the other focused on distributing and installing solar panels and energy storage.
Ultimately, the partnership with Tianjin Zhonghuan Semiconductor to manufacture modules will form a new company, Maxeon Solar, that will be headquartered in Singapore. You can read more about this development here.
PV Patent Infringement:
Hanwha Q Cells attempted to shut competitors out of the U.S. market by filing a complaint in March that Longi Solar, Jinko Solar, and REC Group were all infringing on a patent filed in 2008. It now appears that all three companies will emerge victorious, as the case is now stayed with a judgment of non-infringement expected in the coming weeks, according to a filing from the U.S. International Trade Commission.
Hanwha does have a few avenues to challenge the outcome, and the company stated in an email that it plans to “immediately appeal” the determination to commissioners once possible.