Trump’s solar tariff disaster: 62,000 jobs and $19 billion in investments lost

dropping PPA prices

Tariffs on imported solar cells and modules have led to the loss of more than 62,000 U.S. jobs and $19 billion in new private sector investment, according to a market impact analysis released today by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

The analysis comes as the midterm review process for the tariffs begins at the U.S. International Trade Commission on Dec. 5, and covers tariff impacts from the beginning of the 2017 trade complaint by Suniva through the end of the tariff lifecycle in 2021.

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solar tariff impact

“Solar was the first industry to be hit with this administration’s tariff policy, and now we’re feeling the impacts that we warned against two years ago,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “This stark data should be the predicate for removing harmful tariffs and allowing solar to fairly compete and continue creating jobs for Americans.”

In addition to its economic impact, tariffs on solar have caused 10.5 gigawatts (GW) of solar installations to be cancelled, enough to power 1.8 million homes and reduce 26 million metric tons of carbon emissions.

KEY FIGURES FROM THE ANALYSIS:

• Solar tariffs are costing the U.S. more than $10.5 million per day in unrealized economic activity
• Each new job created by the tariff results in 31 additional jobs lost, 5.3 megawatts of solar deployment lost and nearly $9.5 million of lost investment
• Reduced solar deployment figures will increase emissions equivalent to 5.5 million cars or 7 coal plants

solar tariff impact 2

Tariffs on solar are most harshly affecting nascent solar markets including Alabama, Nebraska, Kansas, and the Dakotas. These markets won’t be able to get off the ground because tariffs make solar uncompetitive.

One other important note for Hopper and the solar industry heading into this midterm ITC review: the unprecedented handling of the exemption for bifacial solar modules — which was removed without warning this fall.  The casual nature of that tariff exemption removal is cause for concern in terms of how these tariff decisions are being made in the first place.

The Section 201 solar tariffs began at 30% in 2018, and ramped down to 25% in 2019, 20% in 2020 and 15% in 2021.

One Comment

  1. Why is there never any mention of the Trade Case brought during the Obama presidency? There were multiple determinations against the Chinese manufacturers for “unfair trade practices” including selling products below their cost of manufacture and unfair state subsidies.
    In addition to installation labor, there are jobs in the manufacture of solar products.

    UNITED STATES INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION
    Investigation Nos. 701-TA-481 and 731-TA-1190 (Final) CRYSTALLINE SILICON PHOTOVOLTAIC CELLS AND MODULES FROM CHINA DETERMINATIONS
    On the basis of the record developed in the subject investigations, the United States International Trade Commission (Commission) determines, pursuant to sections 705(b) and 735(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. ‘ 1671d(b)) and (19 U.S.C. ‘ 1673d(b)) (the Act), that an industry in the United States is materially injured by reason of imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules from China, provided for in subheadings 8501.31.80, 8501.61.00, 8507.20.80, and 8541.40.60 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, that the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) has determined are subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value.2

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