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What do Biden’s tariffs mean for the energy transition?

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“What Biden has done is to underscore that he prefers trade protectionism to decarbonizing the economy,” Robert Lawrence, head of the trade policy program at the Harvard Kennedy School, told The Hill.

Of the new actions announced this week, Chinese battery exports are likely among the most disruptive single tariff among the new tranche. 

Pranati Kohli, an analyst on the Trade & Supply Chain team at BloombergNEF, said the tariffs are expected to be particularly impactful on battery deployment — especially batteries used for energy storage, which allow solar and wind power to be used at times when it is not sunny or windy. 

“There is very little US production,” of this type of battery, Kohli said. 

Derrick Flakoll, a Bloomberg policy associate, noted that additional tariffs on permanent magnets could be a “big problem” for offshore wind. 


Asked if the tariffs, particularly on solar panels, would hamper deployment of renewable energy in the U.S., former State Department official Rick Switzer said it would likely cause a “12-month lag in some areas of deployment.”


However, Switzer said the trade barriers imposed by the tariffs could also help to spur investment in domestic industries and supply chains that are being redesigned to support the energy transition.


“There are a lot of people on the sidelines deciding whether to invest” in U.S. manufacturing, and the move could be a factor in driving that investment, said Switzer, who worked on science and technology issues at the U.S. embassy in Beijing. 


The moves come as Biden courts voters in swing states, including key manufacturing hubs in Michigan and Georgia.


The administration’s move comes as Trump and Republicans have broadly sought to paint the administration’s climate agenda as bad for American workers.


Trump told supporters in Ohio earlier this year that there would be a “bloodbath” for the auto industry if he isn’t elected, citing Biden’s push to accelerate electric vehicle adoption in the U.S.


Not all of the Biden administration’s policies have taken this same protectionist approach. The administration recently loosened battery sourcing requirements allowing more cars to qualify for tax credits even if they have some minerals originating in China. 


Read more when a story runs this weekend at from me and colleague Tobias Burns.

Read More: What do Biden’s tariffs mean for the energy transition?

2024-05-17 22:38:00

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