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Solar news: November 27th, 2020

In this week’s Solar News Roundup, General Motors sides with California in an important legal fight about clean air standards, and bifacial solar panels lose their exemption from the U.S. Section 201 solar tariffs.

GM switches sides to join California in clean air standards fight

General Motors, America’s largest automobile manufacturer, recently switched sides of an important legal argument around clean air standards. The car company changed course and joined the same side as the State of California, agreeing that CA does have the right to set greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards for automakers.

Last year, GM, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, and ten smaller car manufacturers backed the Trump administration in a lawsuit fighting California’s setting of greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards. And now, GM CEO Mary Barra said in a letter to several environmental groups that the company will no longer support the lawsuit. The letter said: “We believe the ambitious electrification goals of the President-elect, California, and General Motors are aligned, to address climate change by drastically reducing automobile emissions.” What’s more, GM is urging other automakers to do the same.

The move signals the auto industry’s admission that electric vehicles are very much a part of the future, especially with looming environmental regulations in the upcoming Biden administration.

Bifacial solar panels no longer exempt from U.S. solar import tariffs

This week, the Section 201 import tariffs levied by the Trump administration on all imported crystalline silicon solar panels expanded to include the emerging technology of bifacial solar panels. The tariff is currently at 20 percent, and is scheduled to drop to 18 percent in February of next year. 

The tariffs are widely seen as harmful by solar industry lobbyists and professionals. Abby Hopper, CEO of the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) said “We are asking President-elect Biden to remove those tariffs a year early.” She said that the Biden transition team has signaled their understanding of the negative impact of the tariffs on the solar industry, and continued on to say “It won’t come as a surprise to domestic manufacturing that those tariffs will end. It is not working.”

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