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BNP Paribas Asset Management – Significant catalysts ahead for environmental solutions

US renewables shares rose significantly after news the Biden administration would freeze new tariffs for solar imports from four Asian nations, providing a boost for renewable energy use in the US. Stocks were also supported by reports of progress on a US budget ‘reconciliation bill’ that could include USD 300 billion in climate and energy provisions, including tax credits.[1]

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US renewables shares rose significantly after news the Biden administration would freeze new tariffs for solar imports from four Asian nations, providing a boost for renewable energy use in the US. Stocks were also supported by reports of progress on a US budget ‘reconciliation bill’ that could include USD 300 billion in climate and energy provisions, including tax credits.[1]

According to Bloomberg reports, President Joe Biden imposed a 24-month freeze on new tariffs for solar imports from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam – effectively removing a threat of retroactive tariffs that had cooled renewable project construction across the US.

At the same time, under the Defence Production Act, Biden is supporting US-made solar panels and other domestic clean-energy manufacturing.

Kick-start for solar projects  

The action comes in response to a US Commerce Department investigation that has significantly cut solar panel shipments. The decision to waive new duties will do much to quash the tariff threat for now. The probe looked into whether Chinese companies were circumventing duties by assembling solar cells and modules in the four countries which constitute some 80% of annual panel imports.

Amid the threat of tariffs, manufacturers in the four nations had largely halted shipments to the US, stalling solar projects and prompting at least one utility to warn it would keep a coal plant operating longer than planned.

The Commerce Department is set to issue preliminary findings by late August.

Biden’s move provides a two-year bridge for US solar developers to obtain modules and cells duty-free from southeast Asia, even as the probe proceeds, the White House said.[2]

Boosting sustainable energy equipment

The Department of Energy has been told to work on rapidly expanding manufacturing of solar panel parts, building insulation and other gear. Power transformers and equipment for making and using fuels generated by electricity are also included. The Defence Production Act move should catalyse finance for clean energy manufacturing including loans and grants.

We believe the key beneficiaries are: 

  • Solar panel parts such as photovoltaic modules and module components
  • Building insulation
  • Heat pumps, which heat and cool buildings super-efficiently
  • Equipment for making and using clean electricity-generated fuels, including electrolysers, fuel cells and related platinum group metals  
  • Critical power grid infrastructure such as transformers. 

As an aside, we believe that if the Commerce Department does decide to scrap antidumping and countervailing duties for solar equipment in August, this could have ramifications for other industries that are protected today such as the US steel sector.

Also read: Environmental markets – Fundamentals will prevail

References

[1] See, for example, https://www.grantthornton.com/library/newsletters/tax/2022/hot-topics/jun-07/manchin-and-schumer-discuss-1-trillion-doller-in-tax-hikes.aspx  

[2] See https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/06/06/fact-sheet-president-biden-takes-bold-executive-action-to-spur-domestic-clean-energy-manufacturing/ 

Disclaimer

These are the views of the Environmental Strategies Group and not necessarily the views of BNP Paribas Asset Management. Other investment teams may have different views.  

Please note that articles may contain technical language. For this reason, they may not be suitable for readers without professional investment experience.

Any views expressed here are those of the author as of the date of publication, are based on available information, and are subject to change without notice. Individual portfolio management teams may hold different views and may take different investment decisions for different clients. This document does not constitute investment advice.

The value of investments and the income they generate may go down as well as up and it is possible that investors will not recover their initial outlay. Past performance is no guarantee for future returns.

Investing in emerging markets, or specialised or restricted sectors is likely to be subject to a higher-than-average volatility due to a high degree of concentration, greater uncertainty because less information is available, there is less liquidity or due to greater sensitivity to changes in market conditions (social, political and economic conditions). Some emerging markets offer less security than the majority of international developed markets. For this reason, services for portfolio transactions, liquidation and conservation on behalf of funds invested in emerging markets may carry greater risk.

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