The import ban is focused on one company and not all of Xinjiang’s polysilicon products, but it could shake up the US solar module market. According to Johannes Bernreuter, polysilicon market analyst at Bernreuter Research, Hoshine and its subsidiaries supply the eight largest polysilicon producers in the world, which together make up 90 percent of the world market, with at least some of the metallurgical silicon.
Some U.S. solar companies have started tracking and restructuring their supply chains in anticipation of the government’s move, but may need to take additional steps to prove to customs officials that imported modules do not contain Hoshine material.
Customs and Border Protection estimates that the United States had approximately $ 6 million in direct imports from Hoshine in the past two and a half years and also imported more than $ 150 million in goods containing Hoshine products during that period, a small number in the Compared to the total value of the country nation’s solar imports. According to a research group from BloombergNEF, US imports of solar cells and modules totaled $ 8.2 billion last year.
Some analysts said Thursday’s move could be a prelude to further restrictions. “In our view, today’s actions can only be the first step towards further boundaries,” wrote Kevin Book, an analyst at ClearView Energy Partners, in a research note on solar products from Xinjiang.
The move could prove to be a boon for domestic solar manufacturers like First Solar, who don’t use polysilicon in their modules and recently announced they would double production in the United States by opening a third facility in Ohio by mid-2023, making just a small portion of the solar market.
John Smirnow, general counsel and vice president of market strategy for the Solar Energy Industries Association, said the group supports the government’s efforts on forced labor and encourages solar companies to move away from materials made in Xinjiang.
“The fact is that in the Xinjiang region we have no transparency about the supply chains and there are too many risks to operate there,” he said. “This is why we started asking solar companies to leave the region in October and we provided them with a traceability log to ensure there was no forced labor in the supply chain.”