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  • US Seizes Chinese Solar Panels // Pakistan: Rationing Only Option // FERC Drama: Manchin Blocks Glick

US Seizes Chinese Solar Panels // Pakistan: Rationing Only Option // FERC Drama: Manchin Blocks Glick

US Seizes Chinese Solar Panels

America has seized over 1,000 shipments of solar panels from China at the border. The shipments are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. And they've been piling up in ports since June due to a new law that bans imports from Xinjiang where Uyghurs have allegedly been forced into labor. 

Up until now, the level of seizures hadn't been reported. But it looks like its effects could muck up Biden's climate legislation. The majority of the world's solar panels are made in China and the US is years away from potentially gaining a domestic solar panel industry. 

US Customs and Border Protection did not disclose which manufacturers panels were seized. "Three industry sources with knowledge of the matter, however, told Reuters the detained products include panels and polysilicon cells likely amounting to up to 1 gigawatt of capacity and primarily made by three Chinese manufacturers - Longi Green Energy Technology Co Ltd, Trina Solar Co Ltd, and JinkoSolar Holding Co," reports Reuters.

Put together, these three manufacturers make for about a third of American solar panel supplies. These three companies have also halted any new shipments to America over worries that more cargoes will be contained, industry sources told Reuters. 

Pakistan: Rationing Only Option

Pakistan has been priced out of the global natural gas market by European countries like Germany that made themselves dependent on Russian gas so they could partially replace well-functioning nuclear plants with intermittent wind and solar. Once those wealthy European countries sanctioned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, they snatched up all the LNG imports they could. Now Pakistan must ration. 

"Testifying before the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Petroleum, Additional Secretary Incharge Capt (retd) Muhammad Mahmood made it clear that every effort would be made to ensure gas supply to domestic consumers for three hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon and three hours in the evening," reports Dawn. 

“There would be no gas supply (to household consumers) for 16 hours,” he said. Mahmood added that gas can only be provided thrice daily to domestic consumers for cooking because of the scarcity of natural gas in Pakistan.

"Regarding the diversion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to household sector as had been the practice in the past, the secretary petroleum said the authorities could not purchase expensive LNG and sell it cheaper and LNG was not available at higher rates either," reports Dawn. "He said there were prospective areas in the country with gas deposits but the exploration was not possible due to security reasons."

Thus Pakistan remains dependent on imports it can ill afford. 

FERC Drama: Manchin Blocks Glick

“We can longer plead ignorance to the consequences of our actions,” President Biden said in Sharm el-Sheikh at the start of a series of appearances through North Africa and Asia. Biden then pivoted to talking about America's largest climate action in history: “It’s going to shift the paradigm for the United States and the entire world,” he said. “We’re proving a good climate policy is a good economic policy.”

But Biden's plans have been hitting snags. One we detailed up above. The other is West Virginia Joe Manchin's revenge. Manchin supported the IRA because he expected to get help on permitting reform. Help was not forthcoming. Now, Manchin has refused to hold a confirmation hearing for Richard Glick, Biden's pick for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. 

When reached for comment by Utility Dive, a spokesperson from his office simply replied, "The chairman was not comfortable holding a hearing." No elaboration offered.

"Glick, a former Senate aide, joined FERC in late 2017 after being nominated by then-President Donald Trump. Biden elevated him to chairman in January 2021. His term expired June 30 and he will leave FERC if not confirmed by the end of the year," reports Utility Dive. "In perhaps the most controversial move during Glick’s time as agency head, FERC in mid-February adopted on a 3-2 vote a framework for reviewing natural gas infrastructure proposals that included expanded criteria for deciding whether the facilities are needed. FERC also issued an interim policy statement outlining how the agency will consider projected greenhouse gas emissions related to the gas projects it reviews."

And it's Glick's stances on natural gas and coal that have drawn criticism from Manchin. But Glick's absence might not be the obstacle it seems. Neil Chatterjee, a Republican and former FERC chair, told E&E News, “I had a two-two commission for almost a year. We got a lot done during that time because we came together, we negotiated and we compromised. On transmission in particular, Glick was already trying to get a bipartisan consensus.”

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Conversation Starters

  1. A disagreement over the gas price gap is hamstringing European efforts to respond to the energy crisis. "Four EU countries are threatening to derail a package of measures designed to address the current energy crisis, including measures for joint buying of natural gas and speeding up permitting for renewable energy projects," reports Oilprice.com. "The four countries, Belgium, Greece, Italy, and Poland, threatened to block the entire package of energy-related measures designed to alleviate the energy crisis in 27 EU countries because a natural gas price cap plan is not included in the current list of detailed proposals."

  2. Electricity reliability is on the rise in the American West due to increasing renewable energy penetration, according to a new report. "A group responsible for power market reliability in Western North America said the growing use of renewable generation will require the region to boost planning reserves in coming years to help maintain grid reliability," reports Reuters. "The Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) said in a recent reliability assessment that planning reserve margins for 2023 rose from 16.9% in 2021 to 18.3% in 2022 due in part to the increase in variable resources, like wind and solar, that only produce power when the wind blows or the sun shines."

  3. South Carolina's Rep. Jeff Duncan is circulating a plan to make America a leader in nuclear energy in his bid to become a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “The United States has the technological and engineering capabilities to be the world leader in nuclear energy, and we must modernize our current system to ensure the United States’ nuclear dominance,” said Duncan in a statement. “For the United States to maintain a geopolitical advantage and strong national defense, the ability to provide affordable and reliable energy to consumers, and meet climate goals of the 21st century, it is essential to advance the nuclear industry by streamlining and modernizing regulatory hurdles that disincentivize private sector investment.”

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