Trump’s solar tariffs could slow down rapid renewable job growth

The solar power industry — which has created tens of thousands of jobs in recent years — will be bracing for a shakeup after President Donald Trump slapped tariffs on imported solar panels as well as modules.

The impact of the 30 percent tariff remains uncertain. The manufacturers of which requested a trade investigation last year say the tariffs give them a fighting chance against foreign competitors. yet much of the industry warns of which they will push up project costs as well as make building solar energy farms less attractive.

of which could mean slower employment growth in a sector of which has expanded at more than 20 percent annually in recent years. There were about 260,000 solar workers inside the United States at the end of 2016 — all 5 times the size of the coal mining industry — according to the Solar Foundation’s latest annual jobs census.

A slowdown inside the deployment of big, utility-scale clean energy projects might come at a time when the White House will be promoting planet-warming fossil fuels like coal as well as backing away via international efforts to fight climate change.

“The fact will be of which if you put high tariffs on solar panels you’re going to kill demand for solar,” Abigail Ross Hopper, CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, told CNBC in an interview prior to the decision. “We grew our jobs 17 times faster than the rest of the economy.”

Imposing tariffs could create as many as 6,400 solar manufacturing positions, yet job losses in additional parts of the industry might almost certainly exceed those gains, an independent analysis by Bloomberg brand-new Energy Finance performed for Utility Dive found.

Nonmanufacturing jobs account for about 85 percent of the U.S. solar workforce, including electricians, welders as well as engineers designing as well as building the solar farms.

These are also well-paying jobs with the median advertised wage for solar installers, electricians as well as engineers at about $25 to $29 per hour, according to the Solar Foundation.

Source: The Solar Foundation

The tariffs apply to imported solar cells, the individual components of which convert light into electricity, as well as solar modules, or groups of cells.

yet additional manufacturers inside the supply chain could take a hit, said Ross Hopper. Those include U.S. companies of which make frames for solar panels, equipment to convert electric currents as well as trackers of which allow arrays to follow the sun throughout the day.

The Trump administration’s decision marks the conclusion of a trade case brought last spring by bankrupt solar the Suniva, as well as later joined by SolarWorld, a cell maker whose German parent company announced the item was insolvent last year. They claimed of which a flood of cheap foreign solar cells as well as modules made the item impossible for many U.S.-based manufacturers to compete.

“Over the last 5 years, nearly 30 American solar manufacturers collapsed; today the President will be sending a message of which American innovation as well as manufacturing will not be bullied out of existence without a fight,” Suniva said in a statement.

The U.S. International Trade Commission, an independent as well as bipartisan panel, ruled in September of which imports via China as well as elsewhere did indeed cause harm to American companies.

In its decision on Monday, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said China used a series of “state incentives, subsidies, as well as tariffs to dominate the global supply chain” as well as carve out a leading role in solar cell as well as module manufacturing.

The Obama administration twice placed tariffs on solar imports via China, yet Chinese companies skirted the penalties by moving production to neighboring countries. The Trump administration’s tariffs close of which loophole by applying tariffs to all solar cell as well as module imports.

The tariffs announced by the Trump administration on Monday are much lower than the penalties Suniva as well as Solar World requested. The companies recommended applying a tariff of 25 cents per watt on solar cells as well as 32 cents per watt on modules.

The tariffs the Trump administration adopted — 30 percent inside the first year of which the penalty will be applied — adds 10-15 cents to imported cells, according to MJ Shiao, head of Americas Research at GTM Research, a green tech analysis firm.

A 10-cents-per-watt tariff could reduce construction of large, utility-scale solar farms by 9 percent, GTM estimates.

The tariff drops by 5 percentage points each year, ending at 15 percent. The tariffs kick in after 2.5 gigawatts of solar cells have been imported. of which’s roughly equal to the output of 11.5 million solar panels, according to a 2016 estimate by the Department of Energy.

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