With an average of 3 to 5 peak sun hours per day in many different regions, America's unique topographical features and climatic conditions allow it to receive plenty of sunlight all year round. In fact, it is among the countries that produce the most solar power, reaching around 76 gigawatts (GW) and generating more than 93 terawatt hours (TWh).
Despite these staggering figures, due to the high equipment cost and limited infrastructure, solar power is currently tapped for only 3% of the country's overall energy consumption, which is way low than the actual potential of this renewable resource.
Thankfully, the Biden Administration has an ambitious goal: to significantly raise the share of solar energy in the national power grid. According to the US government's projection, with the reduced cost factor and ample infrastructure development, solar power has the potential to cater to 40% of the country's energy needs by 2035
White House Suspends Import Tariffs on Solar Panels In a recent development, the White House has announced that it is suspending tariffs on the imports of solar panels for the next two years. It seems like the Biden Administration is pretty serious about the widespread adoption of renewable energy technologies. The reduced import tariffs ensure that the country would have a sufficient supply of solar equipment to meet the ever-growing energy needs. In addition, the government is also investing in infrastructure and offering tax breaks to promote the local production of solar panels and scale up domestic manufacturing, which could generate up to 1.5 million new jobs.
From Where Does the US Import Solar Panels? The US mainly imports solar panels from Southeast Asian countries and the tariff exemption recently announced by the Biden administration is for the solar panels imported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. These four Asian nations are also currently being investigated by the Commerce Department upon allegations of using assembly parts provided by Chinese companies, a way to circumvent US custom duties
Also, to everyone's surprise, the US announced no tariff waiver for imports from China, which is currently the world's biggest producer and exporter of solar panels. It is mainly due to the growing concerns about the use of forced labor in the Chinese region of Xinjiang.
Skyrocketing Demand for Solar Panels Amid Growing Environmental Concerns
Being the world's largest economy isn't a walk in the park. It has its challenges. For instance, America has become one of the biggest polluters on earth because the country's power generation still heavily relies on fossil fuels, which significantly increases its carbon footprint. Talking from a global perspective, solar energy consumers worldwide can save millions of barrels of oil every year, restricting tons of carbon dioxide from entering the environment. Switching to such clean energy resources is the only way to combat the harmful effects of global warming. Therefore, amid these growing environmental challenges and stricter climate change regulations, the demand for solar panels has grown exponentially in recent years. Furthermore, the usage of solar panels has surged by more than 50% in recent years due to increased availability and affordability.
Besides environmental benefits and energy efficiency, the usage of solar energy comes with a plethora of benefits. For instance, the widespread production of solar energy equipment is destined to result in an unprecedented growth of the local job market. Also, when extensively deployed, solar panels can provide energy to the entire United States while using less than 1% of the country's total land.
Govt's Multi-million Dollar Program to Spur Solar Panel Production and Exports As of now, the American solar industry greatly relies on imported items. Almost 90% of the solar panels used in the country are imported from other countries. However, keeping in view the ambitious targets of the current US government, local production is expected to outnumber imports in the foreseeable future. According to the latest updates, the Biden Administration is working on a $56 million program to boost domestic manufacturing of solar energy equipment. Hence, with the availability of more locally manufactured products, the solar industry in the US would not only be less reliant on imports but would also produce more exports, paving the way for a promising and self-sufficient future driven by green technologies.