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The big winners of Biden's solar reprieve

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Jun 6, 2022

Smaller solar developers and mid-construction projects stand to benefit the most from the White House's decision Monday to pause tariffs on solar module imports.

Why it matters: The move promises to reinvigorate project investment that had all but ground to a halt as the Commerce Department investigated an anti-circumvention petition.

Catch up fast: The Biden administration said it will shield imported solar modules from tariffs and potential tariffs for the next two years.

The details: The move is expected to trigger a boom in solar module orders and imports from overseas, industry insiders tell Axios.

  • That might seem to most benefit the biggest companies with the most cash — but small developers, lacking the resources to stockpile modules, have been most hurt by the Commerce Department investigation.
  • "This more throws a lifeline for the smaller developers," Christian Roselund, senior policy analyst at Clean Energy Associates, tells Axios. "They didn’t have modules in a warehouse somewhere."

Meanwhile: The announcement will also restart stalled projects — especially those that had won sign-off from utilities but suddenly found themselves short of modules.

  • "There are a lot of deals that are going to go forward that were on pause or were in danger of being canceled," Roselund says.

Yes, but: It's a temporary reprieve. That means certainty for now — but far less certainty in 24 months.

  • "The industry would be wise to assume that the tariffs aren’t just going to magically disappear in two years," Ethan Zindler, a BloombergNEF analyst, tells Axios.

The bottom line: From Erica Brinker, chief commercial officer of module-maker Array Technologies: "It gives us a stay of execution, at least for the next two years."

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