The solar industry is likely headed into a recession. Solar tariffs that will double the price of panels are almost inevitable — and President Trump is going to make the final tariff decision. The President’s positioning on this issue does not bode well for the solar industry: he is on record for supporting US manufacturing, he has called for tariffs on Chinese manufactured products, he is a supporter of the fossil fuel industry, and he has been dismissive of solar and wind power. As a result, it is very likely that the White House will implement solar tariffs with no regard for the harm these higher prices will cause to the rest of the solar industry.
Solar panel supplies have already diminished as installers have positioned to purchase inventory before the solar tariffs go in place. This increased demand has already pushed panel prices up significantly. With these uncertain trade implications for overseas panel manufacturers, shipments of solar panels to the US have ground to a virtual halt. We are not likely to see new volume shipments commence (at post-tariff prices) until sometime in the first quarter of 2018.
Historically, tariffs on overseas products have rarely restored the vitality of domestic manufacturing. Rather than taking a protectionist stance on trade, the US would benefit by implementing incentives to make manufacturing in the US more attractive — in essence, investing in a robust US solar manufacturing industry.
For more insights into the likely impact of these solar tariffs, please Listen Up to this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World.