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article imageTrump's tariff ruling could destroy U.S. solar industry

By Karen Graham     Sep 23, 2017 in Politics
On Friday, the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that domestic solar panel manufacturers had suffered serious injury from foreign competitors, giving President Donald Trump until January to decided whether to impose tariffs.
The $29 billion solar industry in the U.S. had expected the 4-0 decision by the ITC, with many developers halting construction and hoarding supplies, reports Bloomberg on Saturday.
The ruling is the result of a complaint brought by Suniva, a Georgia-based manufacturer that went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April, citing cheap imports from China as the reason behind their failure. Solar World, a German company with a large manufacturing facility in Hillsboro, Oregon, also had to file for file for insolvency in May, citing the same reason.
Photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of a house near Boston Massachusetts.
Photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of a house near Boston Massachusetts.
Gray Watson
The ITC found that foreign imports of solar panels and cells have damaged the business of the two domestic solar manufactures, Suniva and SolarWorld. Because the ITC will probably suggest either a tax floor or tariffs on foreign imports of solar panels, the decision on whether to regulate these imports will ultimately fall to Trump.
And it is fairly evident that Trump will impose tariffs, especially with his push to keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S. “I would place the odds of the president agreeing to some type of remedy at 90 percent,” an anonymous Trump administration official told the news site Axios, according to Grist.
“President Trump can remedy this injury with relief that ensures U.S. energy dominance that includes a healthy U.S. solar ecosystem and prevents China and its proxies from owning the sun,” Suniva said in a statement issued after the vote.
A photovoltaic (PV) module is a packaged  connect assembly of typically 6×10 solar cells. Solar Pho...
A photovoltaic (PV) module is a packaged, connect assembly of typically 6×10 solar cells. Solar Photovoltaic panels constitute the solar array of a photovoltaic system that generates and supplies solar electricity in commercial and residential applications.
AleSpa
Tariffs could severely damage the solar industry
Even after taking bankruptcy, Suniva is proposing a price floor of 78 cents per watt and a tariff that would more than double the current cost of solar panels. Abigail Ross Hopper, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association said in a statement Friday that such a tariff would hobble the solar industry in the U.S.
“Analysts say Suniva’s remedy proposal will double the price of solar, destroy two-thirds of demand, erode billions of dollars in investment and unnecessarily force 88,000 Americans to lose their jobs in 2018,” Hopper said. “An improper remedy will devastate the burgeoning American solar economy and ultimately harm America’s manufacturers and 36,000 people currently engaged in solar manufacturing that don’t make cells and panels.”
Saule Technologies has developed a flexible  perovskite photovoltaic module.
Saule Technologies has developed a flexible, perovskite photovoltaic module.
Saule Technologies
The U.S. solar industry lined up against Suniva and SolarWorld, after seeing the costs of installed solar per watt decline dramatically the past 10 years. Over 98 percent of the industry now relies on these imports, “with more than a third of them from China,” where production costs are cheaper, reports InsideClimate News.
The cheaper costs have made solar competitive with fossil fuels, going so far as to beat out conventional energy sources. Many conservative and industry-aligned groups like the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council have also come out against tariffs on solar imports.
“This decision gives President Trump and his fossil fuel allies a blank check to crush the solar revolution that we are experiencing in the United States,” said Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, in a statement. “President Trump should not use this decision as an excuse to kill the solar industry under the guise of domestic manufacturing.”
More about solar industry, Tariffs, Imports, US International Trade Commission, US Solar market
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