More than 1,000 shipments of solar energy components worth hundreds of millions of dollars have accumulated at US ports since June under a new law that bans imports from China’s Xinjiang region over concerns about slave labor, according to federal customs officials and industry sources.
The level of seizures, which has not been previously reported, reflects how a policy aimed at increasing pressure on Beijing for its uyghur detention camps in Xinjiang risks slowing the Biden administration’s efforts to decarbonize the US power sector to fight climate change.
US Customs and Border Protection seized 1,053 shipments of solar-powered equipment between June 21, when the Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act took effect, and October 25, it told Reuters. in response to a public records request, adding that none of the shipments have yet been released.
The agency did not disclose the manufacturers or confirm details about the number of solar kits in the shipments, citing federal law protecting confidential trade secrets.
However, three industry sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters that the delayed products include polysilicon panels and cells likely to amount to 1 gigawatt in capacity and made mainly by three Chinese manufacturers: Longi Green Energy Technology Co Ltd, Trina Solar Co Ltd and Jinko Solar Holding Co.
Together, Longi, Trina and Jinko typically account for up to a third of U.S. panel supplies. But the companies have halted new shipments to the United States for fear additional shipments will also be delayed, industry sources said.
The sources asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Porcelain denies abuses in Xinjiang. Beijing initially denied the existence of detention camps, but later admitted it had set up “vocational training centers” needed to curb what it said was terrorism, separatism and religious radicalism in Xinjiang.
Neither the Chinese Foreign Ministry nor the China Photovoltaic Industry Association immediately responded to requests for comment.
Last month, Li Gao, head of the climate change bureau at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said that some countries “invent reasons to suppress China’s photovoltaic companies…harming the global collective effort to combat climate change.” .
In an email, Jinko said he is working with CBP on documentation showing his supplies are not linked to forced labor and that he is “confident the shipments will be admitted.”
Longi and Trina did not respond to requests for comment.
The bottleneck is a challenge for the US. solar development at a time when the Biden administration seeks to decarbonize the US economy and implement the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a new law that encourages clean energy technologies to combat climate change.
Solar installations in the United States slowed 23% in the third quarter and nearly 23 gigawatts of solar projects were delayed, largely due to an inability to obtain panels, according to trade group the American Clean Power Association.
ACP urged the Biden administration to streamline the import screening process.
“After more than four months of review of solar panels under the UFLPA, none have been rejected, and instead they remain stuck in limbo with no end in sight,” it said in a statement.
The UFLPA essentially assumes that all Xinjiang products are made with forced labor and requires producers to show sourcing documentation for imported equipment all the way down to raw material to prove otherwise before imports can be cleared.
CBP did not comment on the length of the detentions or say when they might be released or refused. “Ultimately, it depends on how quickly an importer can submit sufficient documentation,” said CBP spokeswoman Rhonda Lawson.
The EU has also proposed a ban on products from Xinjiang, but has not implemented it.
The White House said President Biden will hold talks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Monday on the sidelines of a Group of 20-nation summit in Indonesia, their first face-to-face meeting since Biden took office in January. 2021.
When Biden was asked as he left the White House Thursday night if he thought the talks would be productive, he replied, “I always think my talks are productive.”
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