President Trump turns out the lights on solar panel imports into US

Kelley Robertson
January 25, 2018

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The US has approved controversial tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels in line with president Donald Trump's "America First" trade policy.

"Our companies have been decimated, and those companies are going to be coming back strong", said Trump, according to a White House transcript of the signing ceremony.

California state officials, solar businesses and industry groups say USA manufacturers can't keep pace with production in China, and they fear that the move could slow the adoption of renewable energy, raise the price of solar panels and cost the region jobs.

"Over the last five years, almost 30 American solar manufacturers collapsed; today the president is sending a message that American innovation and manufacturing will not be bullied out of existence without a fight", the company said, according to The Hill.

It was "better than expected", JinkoSolar Holding Co., the world's largest producer of solar panels and China's largest exporter, said on Monday.

"Most of our industry is based on the installation of solar panels, not the manufacturing". Most of these products, SolarWorld has argued, come from China, which has seen a 700 percent increase in exports of solar panels to the USA during that time, according to International Trade Commission data.

Research firm Wood Mackenzie estimated that over the next five years the tariffs would reduce USA solar installation growth by 10 to 15 percent. The levy would drop by 5 percent a year before ending entirely after four years.

First Solar, a USA manufacturer, traded as high at $74.32 (vs a close of $68.96) but is now trading down at $68.47, down $0.49 on the day.

Trump has been eager to enact a tariff of any kind, Johnson said, and doing so against the solar industry became convenient.

"We are not happy with this decision", said Abigail Ross Hopper, president of the U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association, on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

"It's an evolving process, but it's not going to save the companies that prompted this action", Cheshire said Tuesday. With solar installations expected to top 100 GW across the world this year, costs should continue to fall, offsetting some of the cost increases related to the US tariffs. But all renewables still only accounted for 7 percent of the state's power in 2016, the EIA said.

"It's just another decision made by a government entity".

"We're happy the decision was made either way because unanswered questions like that cause an unstable market", she said. The increase in tariffs would lead to an increase in prices that would result in a loss of low-priced options for the United States consumers. Two small subsidiaries of foreign companies that made solar cells in the US favor tariffs, but a larger number of companies that install solar-power systems say their costs will rise and jobs will be lost.

Trump dismissed worries of trade retaliation. Imports beyond that number will be subjected to a 50% tariff. "It'll only be stock increases for companies that are in our country", he said. "It's just another effort to bail out the dying coal industry".

"Their motive is hiding in plain sight", Crystal said.

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