International Trade Actions Complicate Global Market for Renewable Energy Businesses, Particularly in the Solar Sector

by McDermott Will & Emery

[authors: David J. Levine and Pamela D. Walther]

As a result of several recent actions, developers of solar energy projects may face increased costs.  Two cases pending before the World Trade Organization challenge domestic content requirements of solar sector feed-in-tariff programs, and China, the European Union and the United States have initiated actions under domestic trade remedy laws that could result in additional duties at the border on imports of solar industry goods alleged or found to be subsidized or unfairly priced in countervailing duty and anti-dumping actions.

Industry and the governments of the United States, the European Union and China have recently taken a number of legal actions involving renewable energy, particularly the solar sector.  Actions pending before authorities in these regions and before the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva raise a number of significant international law issues and greatly complicate the business landscape for solar industry companies domestically and globally.  Developers of solar energy projects may face increased costs as a result of these actions.  Coincidentally, decreased prices for various alternative sources of energy, such as natural gas and coal, pose further difficulties for the renewable energy sector. 

In the WTO, two cases are challenging domestic content requirements of solar sector feed-in-tariff (FIT) programs that provide solar energy producers with long-term guaranteed revenue contracts.  The challenges could result in the elimination of the domestic content requirements that favor domestic producers, or possibly a dismantling of the FIT programs themselves.

  • In November 2012, China, joined by Japan and Australia, challenged the domestic content requirements of EU and EU Member State FIT programs.  Greece and Italy are specifically named as two European countries with offending FIT programs. 
  • Last year, the European Union and Japan challenged similar domestic content requirements contained in an Ontario, Canada, FIT program.  Although the WTO panel ruling will not be public until December 2012, unofficial reports indicate that the panel has found that Ontario’s domestic content requirements violate international trade rules. 

Under domestic trade remedy laws, China, the European Union and the United States have initiated actions that could result in additional duties at the border on imports of solar industry goods alleged or found to be subsidized and/or unfairly priced in countervailing duty (CVD) and anti-dumping (AD) actions, respectively. 

  • The United States recently concluded AD/CVD investigations on imports of Chinese solar cells and modules.  The findings mean that importers into the United States of these products must now deposit AD/CVD duties ranging from 24 percent to more than 250 percent, depending on the Chinese producers/exporters. 
  • In December 2012, the United States will conclude AD/CVD investigations on wind towers (the bases for wind turbines in wind energy production) imported from China and Vietnam.
  • The European Union now also has AD and CVD investigations pending on imports of solar cells and modules from China into the European Union.
  • China has initiated AD and CVD investigations—widely reported as retaliatory in response to the U.S. and EU actions—on polysilicon, a key element in the production of solar cells, from the United States and from the European Union, as well as from South Korea.
The McDermott Difference

Our International Trade Group brings focused experience in WTO dispute settlement, trade remedy (AD/CVD) actions and global trade policy to assist client interests in the United States, Europe and Asia.  Our team in Brussels, Shanghai and Washington, D.C., together with colleagues in the Firm’s extensive Energy Practice Group, provide companies affected by these actions with strategic advice to navigate the complexities and to capitalize on the opportunities presented by these trade actions. 

For more information, please contact your regular McDermott Will & Emery lawyer or one of the following McDermott International Trade Group lawyers:

Carolyn B. Gleason:  +1 202 756 8215
David J. Levine:  +1 202 756 8153
Philip Bentley, QC:  + 32 2 282 35 27
Pamela D. Walther:  +1 202 756 8220
Raymond Paretzky:  +1 202 756 8619
Jay L. Eizenstat:  + 1 202 756 8383

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© McDermott Will & Emery | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

McDermott Will & Emery

McDermott Will & Emery on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.