Tech

Trump signs solar panel tariff, angering USA installers

Trump signs solar panel tariff, angering USA installers”

In a statement, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said President Trump has approved the tariffs based on recommendations from "the independent, bipartisan U.S. International Trade Commission that increased foreign imports of washers and solar cells and modules are a substantial cause of serious injury to domestic manufacturers".

Instead, the U.S. would use a range of trade policy "sticks" to address the widening trade deficit with China such as anti-dumping actions and investigations into unfair trade practices and violations of intellectual property rights.

The Solar Energy Industry Association claimed that just 2,000 of the 38,000 solar manufacturing jobs in the United States are involved in building cells and panels, meaning many solar companies in the Land of the Free are dependent on imported cells and panels to do their jobs.

The Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group, estimates that the tariffs will eliminate 23,000 jobs this year and lead to the cancellation of billions of dollars' worth of solar investments.

While most of the solar industry voiced its opposition, the tariffs were requested by two solar manufacturers - bankrupt solar company Suniva and the US subsidiary of Germany's SolarWorld - which contend that the increase in imported panels in the last five years sent prices plummeting and harmed business.

Some of the leading solar companies saw the tariff coming, Hochschild said, and stocked up on panels ahead of time. That migration has resulted in lower-priced solar projects, which is helping to drive consumer demand because the time to recoup upfront installation costs is shorter than ever. Germany's subsidies for solar started in the early 2000s, making it the biggest manufacturer and installer of panels for nearly a decade. The tariff reportedly includes a 30 percent solar import tax for crystalline-silicon solar cells and modules, which steps down by 5 percentage points each year to 15 percent by the fourth year, according to Green Tech Media.

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However, the research house warned that the Trump administration is expected to impose tariff hikes on the steel and aluminium industries next as he continues the campaign to attract US-based companies to bring jobs back to Americans.

"This is a political decision for the president and I think it's unfortunate because people on the left and right embrace solar energy", said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association. Other manufacturers from Asia voiced similar sentiments.

"When you look at the kind of growth numbers in the industry", she said, "this kind of kicks us in the teeth". "There are no factories in the US that make solar panels".

In other words, the tariffs are definitely not welcome, and definitely damaging to the solar industry, but they don't amount to an existential threat. Overall, he expects the tariff ruling to increase the typical residential installation about 10 percent. In fact, the industry installed a record 13.6 GW in 2016, a record high. As prices plunged, almost 30 US plants closed over the past five years, according to The Associated Press.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., has been one of the most vocal opponents of the tariff.



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