JinkoSolar Holding Co. (JKS) can remain competitive with global manufacturers if the U.S. government sets an import tariff of 10 cents a watt on solar panels produced in China.
If the U.S. does decide to levy Chinese imports, “we are hoping the tariff would be 10 cents a watt,” Isabelle Christensen, director of North American operations for the Jiangxi, China-based solar panel maker, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s San Francisco office yesterday. “If that happens, we would still be competitive.”
A group of U.S. manufacturers led by SolarWorld AG (SWV)’s U.S. unit have asked the Commerce Department to put tariffs on imports after it made an initial ruling that Chinese subsidies were harming U.S. manufacturers. The department is expected to rule on the amount of the tariff March 19.
Solar panel prices fell 51 percent last year amid a global supply glut, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Solyndra LLC and Evergreen Solar Inc. declared bankruptcy last year, blaming competition from Chinese-subsidized solar companies.
If the tariff is “very high,” JinkoSolar may supply the U.S. market from its manufacturing plant in Canada, which has an annual capacity of as much as 40 megawatts, Christensen said.
The company is also considering locating additional manufacturing in South Africa, Taiwan and Malaysia. “We are not married to having manufacturing only in China,” she said.
JinkoSolar fell 2.8 percent to $6.44 at the close in New York. The shares have declined 76 percent in the past year.
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