Ohio Congressman wants American-made solar panels required under Buy American Act

Following President Joe Biden’s expressed desire to produce more solar components in the United States, US Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) today introduced the Ensuring America Gets Legitimate Energy Generated, Produced and Rented at Home Reliably Act (EAGLE SOLAR) Act to the US House of Representatives. The new legislation would close a loophole in the Buy American Act that would require U.S. solar products to be used in federally orchestrated solar PPAs.

Currently, the federal government does not buy solar equipment directly, but only buys energy through PPAs from US companies. Those companies are not required to use American-made solar panels or other equipment to generate that energy. The EAGLE SOLAR Act would close that loophole, requiring U.S. solar system developers and owners to use U.S. equipment to comply with federal PPAs.

Original co-sponsors of the act are Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR).

“American workers and American corporations should be the ones powering America. The EAGLE SOLAR Act will strengthen Ohio’s role as a hub for solar innovation and support living wage jobs for hardworking men and women across industry,” said Congresswoman Kaptur.

NREL illustration showing the stages of making crystalline silicon solar panels. The only thing that can currently be accomplished within the borders of the United States is to assemble foreign solar cells into final solar panels.

Many selected quotes of congressmen and local businesses repeatedly argue that this law would prevent the United States from relying on Chinese solar panels, which the country is already failing to do. Very few imported solar panels come from China, and most of the imported crystalline silicon solar panels come from Southeast Asia. There is no further information on what exactly this law would require – what is a US solar panel? Without solar cell manufacturers in the United States, some of the solar panel will no doubt be made in Asia. Currently, the United States only houses domestic solar panel installers, not full manufacturers.

It should be noted that Congressman Ryan represents Ohio, home to the world’s largest thin-film solar panel manufacturer First Solar, a company that has largely advocated additional tariffs on solar panels from Southeast Asia. First Solar uses cadmium telluride in its solar panels, not crystalline silicon, the solar panel compound currently under investigation by the Department of Commerce and which makes up the vast majority of global solar panel sales. First Solar panels are already inherently “American made” and eligible for the Buy American Act requirements under this new proposal. If US crystalline silicon solar panel assemblers had to import solar cells from outside the country (which is already impossible to avoid), their solar panels would not be eligible for use in projects under federal PPAs.

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