Expert on solar energy says new tariff will bring mixed results


The news from Monday has also impacted United States solar stocks, with some responding positively while others took a slight downturn.

Trump this week signed an executive order created to protect the USA solar industry, but some people wonder if he might be doing more harm than good.

The proclamation was one of two signed Tuesday by President Donald Trump, along with a measure imposing tariffs on large washing machines, actions the White House said are needed to "provide relief to USA manufacturers injured by surging imports". And they also employ a lot of people: Overall, there are around five times as many people working, in one way or another, for the solar energy sector as there are coal miners. Meanwhile, Chinese manufacturers have moved "light years" ahead of their USA counterparts, according Varun Sivaram, an expert on solar power at the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations, enjoying massive scale, extremely low costs and optimized supply chains.

Companies that install solar-power systems for homeowners and utilities are bracing for Trump's call on whether to slap tariffs on imported panels.

The solar industry is a good example of how a global economy, as imperfect as it may be, can work well.

"If prices go up in one place, they're going to figure out how to improve and reduce prices in other ways", he said. Many media outlets, citing economists and solar industry representatives, reported such a move would destroy thousands of jobs in the USA and dramatically reduce the number of solar photovoltaic installations. According to GTM, Florida, Georgia and SC are among the most vulnerable; and these are nascent markets whose utilities just began investing in more solar as costs tumbled.

Petersen said tariffs could stunt his business by raising the cost of a job, which ranges from $6,000 to $60,000 or more.

The tariff was imposed at the request of two domestic solar panel manufacturers, Suniva and SolarWorld, which have been struggling recently against cheap solar panels coming from China. Asian manufacturers have moved so far ahead that with the tariffs expiring in four years, it's unlikely that USA manufacturers can react quickly enough to expand production. "We have to pivot", said Seitz, the CEO of American Solar and Roofing.

"While we fully support a strong USA solar manufacturing industry, last night's decision was shortsighted and could cost jobs and economic growth in Nevada", its executive director, Andy Maggi, said in an emailed statement. They had slipped after news of the tariff plan this week. The tariff, recommended by the bipartisan U.S. International Trade Commission, is created to help these companies compete for the domestic solar market.

The tariffs don't make sense - unless the Trump administration really intends to deal a blow to solar energy in general.

"Chinese solar products are just as good, if not, better than USA made solar products", Cheshire said. The company's president, Kevin Bassalleck, said tariffs would hurt homegrown companies that make racks, tracking systems and electronics that are part of a power system.