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Long-running Solar War Between China and USA Continues Unabated

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Even before the election of Donald Trump, solar energy had witnessed a war between the USA and China with both countries having imposed anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties on each other. The USA started the war by imposing duties on imports of Chinese solar cells and panels which was followed by China putting stiff duties on imports of polysilicon imports from the USA. The USA extended the war by putting duties on Taiwan as well, which took advantage to supply huge numbers of solar products to the USA following duty restriction on China.

This duty regime has persisted for a long time without having much of an effect on the market structure and size in the USA. Chinese solar panel makers continue to dominate using their factories from SE Asia to export to the USA. Though there have been some benefits for USA solar panel makers like First Solar, others have mostly gone bankrupt or shut down their business as it is no longer sustainable to fight against the multi GW Chinese solar factories which can prove to be cheaper than the USA made solar products even with duties.

China recently extended duties on imports of USA made polysilicon which is more than 100% of the value effectively stopping imports of polysilicon from the USA. REC which had the largest capacity of solar polysilicon in the USA and had invested billions of dollars suddenly found itself without a buyer. With almost the entire downstream production of solar panels moving on China and SE Asia and controlled almost monopolistically by large Chinese companies, REC found itself in the cold. The company has effectively shuttered its huge Moses Lake plant and fired its workers as it cannot export competitively to China anymore. South Korean and German polysilicon makers have effectively taken over the Chinese market which has been left by the Chinese domestic polysilicon makers. It is hoped that the Phase 1 trade deal between the USA and China will allow the exports of polysilicon from the USA to start as the USA pressurizes China to reduce its massive trade surplus with the United States.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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