U.S. Customs and Border Protection has blocked Tongwei and Astronergy polysilicon solar modules, including Longi modules, from entering the U.S. market.
Pursuant to the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), US Customs and Border Protection has announced it has blocked Longi solar modules made from Tongwei polysilicon from entering the US market, according to a recent industry note from Roth Capital Partners.
Modules made of Astronergy (Chint) polysilicon have also been rejected under the UFLPA, according to further inspections. pv-lehti USA. The UFLPA places the burden of proof on importers to demonstrate that the supply chain is free of forced labor practices. China has consistently denied claims of forced labor for the Uyghur minority group.
Before apart from these goods, it was assumed that polysilicon from China’s Xinjiang region, which accounts for just under 50% of global production, was blocked. However, it was unclear whether other Chinese suppliers outside the region would be subject to similar controls and market bans.
Ban on Longi panels supplied by Tongwei polyp could mean “de facto ban on Chinese polyp”, warned pv-lehti USA industry contact person. Tongwei was the world’s largest polysilicon supplier in 2022, produces more than 345,000 (metric tons) MT and has no operations in the Xinjiang region.
This is a dramatic negative development in US solar panel supply, as China will account for “89% of global solar-grade polysilicon production in 2022, with steady growth,” according to Bernreuter Research. Long is expected to appeal the import ban, but the appeal process could take several months, at which point the supply of modules will run out.
To comply with the UFLPA, companies must provide a comprehensive supply chain inventory, a complete list of all workers in the facility, and proof that the workers were not subjected to conditions typical of forced labor practices and are there voluntarily.
Although the United States begins in the solar energy supply chain, still doubt that the industry can move fast enough to manufacture a consistent number of components to build toward clean energy goals. Wood Mackenzie expects the US solar market to triple over the next five years, bringing total solar capacity to 378 GW by 2028.
Clean Energy Associates (CEA) says that while module assembly has a strong presence in the U.S. today, ingot, wafer and cell production plans have not kept pace, and plans for new polysilicon plants have not materialized.
It reported 5.6 GW ingot/wafer, 48.3 GW cell and 51.9 GW module capacity online outside of China today. This is not enough for what is needed to make the global energy transition happen, especially if the European Union follows suit in excluding Chinese solar components.
CEA projects the US will reach 17 GW of polysilicon production, 3 GW of ingots, 3 GW of wafers, 18 GW of cell manufacturing and 40 GW of module manufacturing capacity by 2027, suggesting that the US will continue to be dependent on energy. imports in the coming years. However, the recent implementation of the UFLPA may pose a serious challenge to finding suppliers.