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The U.S.-China Trade Case Determination and What It Means for Solar Installers and Consumers
Jun19

The U.S.-China Trade Case Determination and What It Means for Solar Installers and Consumers

A few months back, we published a post on All You Need to Know About the US-China Solar Trade Dispute and how it might affect solar installers and consumers if the case isn’t settled. Well, a preliminary decision is in. The Department of Commerce (DOC) has made a preliminary determination on June 10th in favor of SolarWorld, the German/U.S. solar panel manufacturer who filed the suit. Before we get into the penalties being proposed and finalized, we should remind readers that there are two parts to this case: Part 1: The DOC Decision The first part, now in the preliminary determination stage, has to do with SolarWorld accusing China of illegally subsidizing its solar panel manufacturers with low interest loans and other cash-related subsidies that allowed Chinese manufacturers to manufacture solar panels and export them to the U.S. (and the rest of the world) at below their actual cost. The 2012 DOC decision determined that was the case and imposed over 23% to 254% in countervailing duties (CVD) on various solar cells made in China. However, Chinese manufacturers got around these tariffs by manufacturing their solar cells in Taiwan and other nearby countries, then assembling the rest of the panel in China. Consequently, this new 2014 DOC preliminary determination now includes solar cells and other basic solar panel materials being made in Taiwan and shipped back to China for assembly and export. So, how much in duties will be tacked on to the price of imported Chinese solar panels? The preliminary CVD varies and depends on the brand: For Suntech solar panels, the tariff is 35.21%. For Trina SolarEnergy, the tariff is 18.56%. For all other Chinese brands, the tariff is 26.89%. That means that the wholesale price of all Chinese-made solar panels coming into the U.S. may be increased by as much as 35.21%, and at the very least, by 26.89%! The DOC will make its final determination by August 18, 2014. But wait, there’s more: Part II: The ITC Decision Remember, we said that there were two parts. Now that the DOC has ruled, their evidence has been handed over to the International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC is deciding whether China is intentionally overproducing (“dumping”) their artificially inexpensive Chinese solar panels on the U.S. market in order to flood the U.S. solar market, forcing SolarWorld to lower their prices to compete. The ITC previously said this was the case in the earlier 2012 decision, so most industry analysts think they’ll do so again, but now include solar panels and cells from Taiwan. Should the ITC rule in favor of SolarWorld again, then additional antidumping duties may...

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Don’t Miss Solar Power International (SPI) 2013!
Oct17

Don’t Miss Solar Power International (SPI) 2013!

Solar Power International (SPI) October 21-24, 2013 McCormick Place 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive Chicago, IL 60616 United States In 2012, PV installations grew a head-turning 76 %.    Q3 of 2013 has surpassed that of last year and experts suggest that photovoltaics will have grown 29% over 2013.  Solar professionals will be meeting to discuss the future of solar, attend educational seminars, exchange ideas, and show off the latest in solar technology. Don’t miss Solar Power International (SPI) 2013, this four-day B2B solar trade show and conference with presentations from industry leaders and networking opportunities with solar professionals from more than 75 countries.   Over 15,000 solar industry professionals will gather in Chicago next week to see loads of solar exhibits spread out over 300,000 square feet. Everything from racking to solar cells to inverters will be on display. While you’re cruising around the trade show floor, keep your eyes peeled for the new Enphase M250 microinverter. Some big-name booths to check out include: Fronius USA Morningstar Corp. TUV Rheinland Solectria Renewables Fronius USA There will also be an official SPI 2013 Solar Tweet up at at Kitty O’Shea’s (Chicago Hilton), where you can meet up with industry leaders, including Solar Fred and representatives from GoGreenSolar.com....

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Visit the Solar Decathalon in Irvine!
Oct04

Visit the Solar Decathalon in Irvine!

Despite the government shutdown that’s taking place, college students from throughout the country to participate in the 2013 Solar Decathlon. Come to Great Park in Irvine, CA this weekend  to see 20 modern energy-efficient homes, fully equipped with solar energy systems to cut costs and reduce carbon emissions. Solar Decathlon Village College students from throughout the U.S. are competing in a series of competitions to test the performance of these energy-efficient homes they built from the ground up. The Solar Decathlon, which is sponsored by the Department of Energy, gives university students hands-on training with renewable energy and building environmentally sustainable infrastructure. This event is free to the public, so come out any time from 11:00am to 7:00pm Friday through Sunday.  The Solar Decathlon will also be open for public tours next weekend (October 10th-13th). We’ll be there next week, so let us know if you want to meet up! For more information on this event, please visit www.solardecathlon.gov. ______________ Tom Jackson...

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AB 327: Solar Friend or Foe?
Oct01

AB 327: Solar Friend or Foe?

Recently-amended energy bill, AB 327, awaits signature from Governor Brown Just a couple of months ago, California Assembly Bill 327 was met with fierce criticism from solar advocates throughout California. It was this rallying cry of opposition, however, that ultimately resulted in key revisions to this bill, which are a step in the right direction for rooftop solar. Though this bill is by no means perfect, the amendments made to AB 327 are a testament to the growing power of the solar industry and allies of renewable energy in California. Net-Metering: Investor-Owned Utilities vs. The Solar Industry? To give you a little background, AB 327 will determine what happens to residential energy rate structures in California, including the state’s popular net metering program. Net metering allows residents to receive financial compensation for the excess power generated by their grid-tied solar systems.  When the consumer gets paid for the electricity that’s sent back into the utility grid, it means a greater return on their investment. Net-metering is a monetary incentive for homeowners to get solar on their roofs. Since state policies like this make “going solar” more attractive to potential solar customers, the solar industry has been fighting to keep it around. Being required to pay residential customers for this electricity isn’t really in the best interest of an Investor-Owned Utility (IOU), which has a responsibility to their share-holders to maximize profit. The fate of California’s net-metering policy has been uncertain until recently, as it was set to expire at the end of 2013.  California’s investor-owned utilities (IOUs) have been at odds with the solar industry, which came to head with AB 327. Utility rate structure that solar advocates were criticizing in AB 327: 1. AB 327 will flatten the rates for customers paying for electricity in the higher tiers on their electric bills.   This means that customers who consume significantly higher amounts of energy (kWh) would be paying less than they currently do. 2. AB 327 would also allow utilities to impose a flat rate of up to $10 per month on residential customers, regardless of their net consumption. By decreasing the cost for excessive energy consumption, AB 327 would have made investing in a PV system attractive to potential solar customers paying these high-tier rates. AB 327 would mean that a residential customer, whose net consumption is minimal due to a solar system, could have to pay the utility company a flat rate every month. This could amount to an extra $120 annually, regardless of how much solar power the system was actually generating. One of the main criticisms of this bill is that it would make...

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Will solar prices increase soon?
Jul23

Will solar prices increase soon?

Representatives from GoGreenSolar.com just attended InterSolar North America, one of solar’s leading networking events.  Businesses from more than 70 countries met in San Francisco to showcase new technologies, watch presentations, network, and discuss the future of solar.       Having had the opportunity to talk with suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and service providers, we’ve discovered some key information that suggests that the days of low solar panel prices might soon be coming to a close.  Though no one has a crystal ball, industry-insiders believe that the prices for solar modules will be going up soon, meaning that the days of  $0.72 / Watt solar panels may not be around much longer.  Over the last several years, the surplus of solar panels being manufactured drove margins down, consequently pushing multiple manufacturing companies out of business.  While solar panels continue to get cheaper to produce, this consolidation process is now helping manufacturers that are left in the game. If you recall the trade scuffle we talked about this last year, the Chinese government was found to be providing illegal subsidies, allowing their manufacturers to sell their products below fair market value in the United States. In response, the U.S. government imposed anti-dumping tariffs of roughly 30% on Chinese solar cells.  As you might expect, Chinese manufacturers have been circumnavigating these duties by manufacturing solar cells outside China.  Taiwan, which now manufactures these cells, is now having difficulty keeping up with the increase in demand.  This could cause prices to increase. As the dominant solar panel manufacturer in the world, China recently swung back at the U.S. by implementing their own import duties on polysilicon coming from the United States.  Because this is a raw material used to make solar panels, this new tariff could also drive up the cost of solar panels. Though these issues may indicate a coming increase in solar panel pricing, even manufacturers can’t foresee what will happen several months into the future.  As you might imagine, this can pose a problem for solar projects that are scheduled months if not years into the future.  Imagine a multi-MegaWatt solar project- even a matter of a few cents would make a massive difference.   For a homeowner looking into a residential application, several cents per Watt isn’t exactly pocket change. While prices are still low, request a no obligation solar quote or call 1 (866) 798-4435. _____ Tom Jackson...

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