Market in Turmoil as U.S. Gov. Mulls Tariffs Revision on Solar Panels

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In a soon anticipated revision of tariffs on imported solar panels by the U.S. President Donald Trump have sent market players in a tizzy, with many believe that this may hurt solar energy production in the nation. The need for expected policy decision stems from the industry’ perspective that domestic manufacturers and businesses have been badly hurt from the upsurge in imports during the period 2012–2016 and the affect continues to this day as well. According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, imports of silicon PV cells was catapulted by as much as 500% during the said period. Installation of solar power systems has been increasingly benefitting from inexpensive solar panels flooding the domestic shores, with most coming from Asian countries. In particular, the spate of imports from Chinese businesses in recent years has adversely affected the domestic capacity, leading to a loss of jobs. Though, this invariably bolstered the solar energy production, notably fortifying utility-scale operations.

Glut of Solar Panels from Chinese Manufacturers Unaffected by Earlier Sanctions

Though the U.S. Commerce Department has imposed stringent anti-dumping duties on imported panels made by Chinese manufactures during 2012–2015, companies could outsmart these sanctions by assembling these solar panels made in other countries in Asia. Of note, the U.S. International Trade Commission in October revealed that the surge in imports has been hurting domestic manufacturers, but lacked clarity on the extent of the affect. The agency has recommended to raise the tariff by up to 35 percent. The U.S. President can accept or reject this or follow his own mandate.

Tariff Could Solar Energy Demand but Could Revive American Manufacturing

According to a consultant working for SolarWorld, a German company manufacturing and marketing PV cells, opined that imposing tariffs could create as many as 45,000 U.S. jobs. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, raising the tariff will make the solar energy production less competitive, vis-à-vis other renewable energy production, thereby hurting solar energy demand. However, some advocates of renewable energy content that the revised tariff can’t revive American solar cells manufacturing. Rather they believe the tanking demand could lead to further loss of jobs. Nevertheless, the manufacturing industry in general is optimistic of the stricter tariff imposition.

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