One of the promises the Trump administration made when they took office is that they will be bring back jobs to the United States. In a recent move, Trump appears to try and follow through with his promises by having the U.S. sign off on tariffs for imported solar panels.
As reported by BBC News, the U.S. made the decision due to finding of the U.S. International Trade Commission, through official documentation, they explain that China’s cheap solar cells and modules are undercutting the U.S.’ own industry. The Trump administration is claiming the cheap prices are “unfair trade practices”.
Due to that, the United States will be putting a 30 percent tariff (tax) on all imported solar panels. After four years, the tariff will decrease to 15 percent.
The tariff will likely benefit solar panel manufacturers in the United States but the problem the Trump administration fails to acknowledge in its decision is that this decision will actually hurt U.S. companies more than help. The harm will come to solar installers, where the majority of the U.S. solar industry jobs actually are. According to Bloomberg, 80 percent of solar equipment is imported and mostly from Asia and there are few companies in the United States making solar equipment.
As a solar company, we are devastated to learn Trump has imposed a 30% tariff on solar panels virtually killing the solar industry. Solar employs more people than coal and oil combined. today's decision will cause the loss of roughly 23,000 American jobs this year.
— Eugene Wilkie (@NOW1SOLAR) January 22, 2018
Some American interests may be protected with this decision, but it seems that the federal government is not actually interested in improving its solar energy industry. Trump has stated on numerous occasions he plans to expand the oil and coal industries. This decision is more confirmation Trump is trying to weaken the clean energy sector and build up coal and oil to profit and please special interests groups.
Outside of the harm that will come to the environment, Trump’s decision appears that they will only hurt the United States in the long run and set them back years. In 2016, renewable energy in general accounted for two-thirds of new power added to the world’s electrical grids and a report by the International Energy Agency revealed that solar power is the fastest-growing source of energy in the world.
China can be thanked largely for the growth as they have significantly pushed policies for clean energy technology and infrastructure. Although China, is producing panels and shipping faster than anyone else, the United States solar industry has been booming as well as prices have decreased significantly and more power can be harvested than ever.
The decreased costs in solar has helped the solar installation industry boom in the United States and has produced jobs 12 times faster than compared to the rest of the U.S. economy. The fallout from the new tariff will most likely cause potential solar buyers to be more hesitant as an price increase is likely on new panels.
With or without the new tariff, solar still has a ways to go until it will realistically replace coal, but the technology and availability is gaining. Unfortunately, the current U.S. administration will do anything to push back the advancement of clean energy, even if it means harm to the U.S. economy.