The Trump administration, while Senate was passing a resolution to reopen the government, just announced it’s pushing through a 30% solar panel tariff on all imported solar panel parts driving up the cost of renewable energy within the United States and putting a halt on the growth that the clean energy economy had been experiencing.
For years the U.S. has seen a drop in prices and a rise in demand for solar panels but that’s about to change because according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance the cost of solar panels will double in the United States due to the new tariffs.
In 2017, Suniva, Inc group filed a petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission to force the government to push the scale in terms of solar panel imports because the company was facing bankruptcy. SolarWorld Americas joined the petition driving up even more support for the efforts which poses a threat to the industry of more than a quarter of a million workers.
SEIA, the Solar Energy Industries Association predicts a job loss of roughly 88,000 employees including “6,300 jobs in Texas, 4,700 in North Carolina and a whopping 7,000 jobs in South Carolina.”
Even though Suniva, Inc is majority owned by Chinese company Shunfeng International Clean Energy and they oppose the petition, they had filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and had to lay off 230 employees in Michigan putting their finances in the control of SQN, a finance firm based in New York and London. The idea behind the tariff push is to encourage more United States manufacturing to compete against Chinese solar panel parts makers, but with the companies behind the petition having just laid off hundreds of workers and with the expectancy of nearly a hundred thousand more workers to lose their jobs it is hard to see just how this would bolster manufacturing and help the clean energy economy.
Trump imposes 30% tariff on imported solar panels–one more effort to try and slow renewable energy, one more favor for the status quo
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) January 22, 2018
SEIA also notes: “SQN Capital Management, an investment firm to whom Suniva owes more than $50 million, is bankrolling the company’s ITC petition. As Suniva’s largest creditor, SQN is trying to sell off Suniva’s manufacturing equipment. In a letter to the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products, SQN said that if the assets were purchased then the trade case would be dropped.”