On June 6, 2022, President Joseph Biden announced that he was declaring an emergency “with respect to the threats to the availability of sufficient electricity generation capacity to meet expected customer demand” in the United States. Announcing that a “robust and reliable electric power system” is critical to national security and national defense, the president took several actions to address ongoing requirements, including addressing growing needs in the solar energy industry. In a Declaration of Emergency, President Biden announced that for 24 months he was authorizing the Secretary of Commerce to allow for the importation, free from any duties, of certain solar cells and modules exported from the Kingdom of Cambodia, Malaysia, the Kingdom of Thailand and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. This decision is related to and impacts the Department of Commerce’s ongoing investigation into whether imports of solar cells and/or modules from these countries are circumventing the antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) orders on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not assembled into modules (solar cells and modules), from the People’s Republic of China (China).
As a result of the president’s declaration, imports of solar cells and modules from these countries will not be subject to additional antidumping or countervailing duties during this two-year period. In a brief press statement, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Enforcement and Compliance Lisa Wang noted President Biden’s emergency declaration, stating that the Department of Commerce will soon issue regulations to temporarily permit duty-free access to solar cells and modules from these four countries. She added that the Department’s “anti-circumvention proceeding continues uninterrupted, and whatever conclusion Commerce reaches when the investigation concludes will apply once this short-term emergency period is over. [However,] with the President’s declaration, no solar cells or modules imported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam will be subject to new antidumping or countervailing duties during the period of the emergency. Existing duties on Chinese and Taiwanese imports of solar cells and modules remain in effect.”
Invoking the Defense Production Act
In addition to this action, President Biden announced that he was authorizing the use of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to accelerate domestic production of clean energy technology. On June 6, 2022, the president authorized the Department of Energy to use the DPA to expand U.S. manufacturing of five critical clean energy technologies:
- Solar photovoltaic modules and panel parts;
- Building insulation;
- Heat pumps, which heat and cool buildings super-efficiently;
- Electrolyzers, fuel cells and platinum group metals; and
- Transformers and electric power grid components.
The White House announced that the Department of Energy will “soon convene relevant industry, labor, environmental justice, and other key stakeholders” to maximize the impact of the DPA tools made available for this initiative. A Department of Energy statement on the presidential determinations authorizing the DPA to accelerate domestic production of these five key energy technologies is available here.