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Solar Down, but not Out, After Trump Tariffs

Solar Down, but not Out, After Trump Tariffs

It’s been almost a year since a 30% tariff was introduced for all solar cells and modules entering the U.S., and leaders in the industry say that current numbers suggest they’re down but not out. Reports indicate that while prices have surged, the industry remains strong and growth is on the horizon for US solar power. This week we’re taking a deep dive into the aftereffects of these tariffs: How have they helped or hindered the solar industry, and what can be expected moving forward? Find out by reading on!

Costs Keep Rising

In September, EnergySage released its semiannual Solar Marketplace Intel Report™ which concluded that the solar tariff has resulted in $236.5 million for American consumers since its implementation. All of these additional costs were incurred between July 2017–June 2018, and although prices started to decline, the process has been slower than experts hoped. Costs to solar panel consumers were 5.6% higher than pre-tariff prices as of September 26th making a standard 6-kilowatt system $960 more expensive on average. ­­

Stagnating Job Growth and Other Concerns

Another expected, but disappointing, impact of the solar tariff is stagnating job growth in the industry. An article from NBC News last week reported that since the tariff went into effect, nearly 9,000 solar industry jobs were either lost or not created. This runs counter to the initial reason behind the tariff—to incentivize producers to move solar panel and module production from China to the U.S.

Additionally, incentives to grow the industry took the backseat as experts focused their energy on mitigating losses. The Solar Energy Industries Association estimated $2.5 billion of potential investment in solar expansion projects was curbed as a result of the tariffs. Overall, solar installation across the country is down a full 9% compared to last year. Abigail Ross Hopper, the Solar Energy Industries Association’s president and CEO, stated “Without the tariffs, we would be growing.”

Future of Solar in the U.S.

While initial reports look bleak, there is hope on the horizon. Slowly but surely, prices are dropping on solar modules with some estimates indicating they could return to pre-tariff pricing as early as the middle of next year.

This good news could come to a halt, though, as yet another tariff on Chinese-made solar goods will rise January 1, 2019. The 15 percent increase on inverters—a jump from a 10 to 25 percent tariff—will likely affect residential solar prices more than other market sectors according to Scott Moskowitz, a senior solar analyst at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.

While the solar market may be feeling the effects of these changes for many years, you can trust J-Tech Solar to keep you in the know. For more information on installing a residential solar panel system on your home or how we keep our prices as low as possible during times of market flux, contact our Lincoln office—we’d love to help you install a residential system and start saving you money on energy costs!


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