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article imageSunPower’s IBC cells and modules receive exemption from tariffs

By Karen Graham     Sep 18, 2018 in Business
California-based high-efficiency PV module producer SunPower Corp has said that its interdigitated back contact (IBC) solar cells and modules have been granted an exclusion from the US Section 201 import tariffs imposed by President Trump in 2018.
With the announcement, SunPower's shares rose 15 percent. While SunPower is headquartered in San Jose, its IBC cells are produced at two facilities outside the U.S., one in Malaysia and another in the Philippines. The company's solar modules are assembled in Mexico.
In arguing for its exemption, SunPower said the funds it was spending on tariffs were being diverted from investments in American jobs in research and development and domestic manufacturing, reports Reuters.
The exemption covers the company's interdigitated back contact (IBC) cells and modules — a unique high-efficiency IBC technology invented at Stanford University. The company is majority owned by Total, the fourth largest publicly-listed energy company in the world and is publicly traded on the NASDAQ as SPWR.
in April 2018, SunPower announced it would acquire SolarWorld Americas to expand domestic manufacturing capabilities.
SolarWorld, a German-owned company, and Suniva, a Georgia-based manufacturer that has a Chinese majority owner both had to declare bankruptcy in 2017, blaming their misfortunes on cheap imports from China as the reason behind their failure.
The U.S. jumped to second place behind China in EY s renewables index
The U.S. jumped to second place behind China in EY's renewables index
Scion Corporation
Both companies took their complaints to the U.S. International Trade Commission, which ruled in September 2017 the two domestic solar panel manufacturers had suffered serious injury from foreign competitors, giving President Donald Trump until January to decide whether to impose tariffs - which he did.
Sun{Power's acquisition of SolarWorld was an attempt to stem the impact of the Trump administration tariffs on panel imports, and of course, the White House cheered the deal, saying it was proof that Trump’s trade policies were stimulating U.S. investment, reported Reuters at the time.
But that is now water under the bridge. “With today’s decision that SunPower’s highly differentiated IBC cells and modules are excluded from tariffs, we are able to turn the page,” SunPower Chief Executive Tom Werner said in a statement.
SunPower had spent a total of $180,000 with one private lobbying company on renewable energy trade-related matters in the US over approximately the last 12 months, according to publicly available information in the US.
More about SunPower, IBC cells, Section 201 import tariffs, Exemption, solar modules