Solar Company says there are not enough panels made in the United States | News, Sports, Jobs
Although there are a number of solar projects planned for Chautauqua County, some of them are slow to be built after gaining approval, due to supply chain issues and the fact that the United States USA is unable to manufacture enough to meet requirements.
At the recent county Industrial Development Agency meeting, Adam Rizzo with Solar Liberty discussed how President Biden decided not to impose tariffs on solar panels and the impact of that decision not only on their business , but also on other solar companies.
“We were a bit caught off guard earlier this year with potential tariffs on imported solar panels that no one anticipated,” Rizzo said. “It shook up the solar industry a bit because everyone was afraid to import solar panels because you didn’t know what the potential tariffs would be on that equipment and they could also be retroactive. This pretty much put a pause on every project being developed and looking to build until this was resolved.
The Associated Press reported on June 6 that Biden had ordered emergency measures to boost supplies for crucial U.S. solar manufacturers and declared a two-year tariff exemption on Southeast Asian solar panels as he was trying to jump-start progress toward his climate change goals.
Rizzo called Biden’s decision a “a good thing for the industry” and said solar panels are again imported. “There simply aren’t enough solar panels being produced in the United States right now to meet industry demand,” he said.
Solar Liberty has been approved for several solar projects in Chautauqua County, including Ashville and SUNY Fredonia. At the last county IDA meeting, they received approval for two projects in Portland and began discussions for another on Route 60, Pomfret.
Rizzo was also asked about his company’s supply chain issues, particularly with China shutting down due to COVID concerns.
“It definitely pushed back our completion dates for our projects,” he said. “Unfortunately, equipment that used to be readily available in three or four weeks now takes us many, many weeks to get it. Some of the transformers and different pieces of equipment are 52 weeks from the time you order them.
Delays also make costs an issue. “It has also resulted in price increases for us on many of these electrical components,” Rizzo said.
Nathan Rizzo, also of Solar Liberty, noted that the solar panels come with a 25-year warranty.
He said the solar panels slowly start to degrade over time. “They will degrade by about 2% in the first year and 0.2% each year thereafter. Even after a warranty period of 25 years, the modules will produce around 10% less energy,” he said.
With a viable lifespan, Nathan Rizzo said they expect their projects to last 30 to 35 years. Once the deals are done, he said they might want to renegotiate to keep the solar projects in place, before dismantling them and sending the various parts to recycling centers.
In February, the Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board and County Planning Department created a decommissioning template for municipalities to use when approving solar projects.