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Tariffs' Fallout on CA Solar Industry Raises Fears

25 January, 2018, 01:35 | Author: Jan Cross
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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.

"If we want to have the conversation about how to create solar manufacturers successfully in the United States than we are going to have to do a lot deeper dive than just slapping a tariff on it, and hope that it drives it", said Caleb Arthur. "It's just basic economics - if you raise the price of a product it's going to decrease demand for that product". The company and Georgia-based manufacturer Suniva had hoped for 50 percent tariffs on foreign-made solar panels, saying that was what was necessary for American solar manufacturers to compete. The Solar Tariff does not apply to the first 2.5 GW of solar cells (not modules) imported each year.

According to Goldman Sachs, the upshot is that solar demand in the US could see a reduction of 5 percent this year, although a steeper drop off is possible if some projects are delayed into 2019.

Bankrupt Suniva is majority-owned by Hong Kong-based Shunfeng International Clean Energy, and SolarWorld is the USA arm of Germany's SolarWorld AG.

"Anyone expecting a US manufacturing renaissance as a result of these tariffs is set to be disappointed", he said.

Will the tariff provide much benefit for USA solar manufacturers, which is the key rationale for imposing them in the first place?

U.S. Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, a big solar power producing state, said in a Twitter post that the tariffs amount to "nothing more than a tax on consumers".

Seitz said her company buys solar products from large foreign corporations like Hyundai and LG Electronics due to their "diverse portfolios" and she does not believe that domestic companies will drive prices up because of the tariffs. The chart below shows the USA running a distant second to China in terms of global solar panel sales, with India starting to catch up.

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The 30 percent tariff was lower than the 35 percent tariff recommended by the ITC.

"Chinese solar products are just as good, if not, better than USA made solar products", Cheshire said.

Globally, solar capacity soared to nearly 400 GW a year ago from under 10 GW in 2007, according to the International Renewable Energy Administration.

The ministry also said that based on WTO rules, it could also call on the U.S.to provide appropriate compensation.

"China will work with other WTO [World Trade Organization] members to resolutely defend its legitimate interests in response to the erroneous USA decision".

President Donald Trump says he is imposing new tariffs to "protect American jobs and American workers".

"The United States has opted for measures that put political considerations ahead of global standards", Kim told a meeting of industry officials.

CFRA analyst Angelo Zino said he expected any added manufacturing jobs would be "minimal" given the 18 months to two years it takes to build and ramp up a new production facility and the industry's shift toward automation.

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