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The U.S. solar industry has criticized President Biden’s plans for setting up a domestic panel production industry to replace controversial imports from Asia as a “pittance”, noting it will be financed from a fund with barely half a billion dollars in it that are already being used for other things.
Military drones and baby formula are among the things being paid for with money from the same fund, Bloomberg noted in a report, citing a spokesman for the Coalition for a Prosperous America, a manufacturing industry group, that “Even if they spent all of that on solar panels, it’s a pittance.”
The U.S. president earlier this week invoked powers under the Defense Production Act, a Cold War-era piece of legislation, in a bid to jumpstart the domestic production of a range of critical products and technologies, including solar panels.
The White House also lifted tariffs on imported solar panels to stimulate the U.S. solar power industry, which has a central role to play in the Biden administration’s energy transition plans.
The move was supposed to serve to calm the fears in the U.S. solar industry that have been made jittery about the amount of money they must keep on hand to pay what could be potential tariffs down the road. Yet the industry has not exactly praised the administration for its latest effort to help.
According to Samantha Sloan, VP of policy at Forst Solar, the Defense Production Act falls short of the policy that the U.S. manufacturing industries need to motivate further growth.
“We have yet to see this administration put action behind word in supporting US solar manufacturing specifically,” she told Bloomberg. “That causes some heartburn on where the priorities do lie.”
According to BloombergNEF, a polysilicon factory with a capacity for 20,000 tons of the solar panel material could alone cost $1 billion. A panel factor with a capacity for just 1.4 GW annually could cost some $170 million. The U.S. imported 24 GW of panels last year.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.