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 — is actually bracing for a shakeup after President Donald Trump slapped tariffs on imported solar panels along with 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. although much of the industry warns of which they will push up project costs along with 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 from the United States at the end of 2016 — a few times the size of the coal mining industry — according to the Solar Foundation’s latest annual jobs census.

A slowdown from the deployment of big, utility-scale clean energy projects would certainly come at a time when the White House is actually promoting planet-warming fossil fuels like coal along with backing away through international efforts to fight climate change.

“The fact is actually 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, although job losses in additional parts of the industry would certainly 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 along with engineers designing along with building the solar farms.

These are also well-paying jobs with the median advertised wage for solar installers, electricians along with 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, along with solar modules, or groups of cells.

although additional manufacturers from 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 along with 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 some sort of Suniva, along with 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 along with 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 is actually sending a message of which American innovation along with manufacturing will not be bullied out of existence without a fight,” Suniva said in a statement.

The U.S. International Trade Commission, an independent along with bipartisan panel, ruled in September of which imports through China along with 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, along with tariffs to dominate the global supply chain” along with carve out a leading role in solar cell along with module manufacturing.

The Obama administration twice placed tariffs on solar imports through China, although 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 along with module imports.

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

The tariffs the Trump administration adopted — 30 percent from the first year of which the penalty is actually 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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