The US president, Donald Trump, made an announcement concerning his imposed tariff on Chinese solar panels (this was imposed alongside imported washing machines), thereby giving a boost to Whirlpool Corp and consequently dealing a setback to the renewable energy industry.
A statement by the US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, said that the two imported products: solar panels and washing machines “are a substantial cause of serious injury to domestic manufacturers.” The restrictions by the US president were to help domestic producers of solar power thrive, or probably to enhance the use of coals, which ostensibly is something he’s fighting for.
A 30 percent duty will be imposed on imported solar cells and modules in the first year. This with the tariffs duty would have declined to 15 percent by the fourth year. Whirlpool chairman, Jeff Fettig, said, “By enforcing our existing trade laws, President Trump has ensured American workers will compete on a level playingfield with their foreign counterparts. The duty would help to slow a shift to renewable energy in the United States”.
Renewables was already becoming a source thriving as much as the use of coals was thriving. MJ Shiao, head of renewable energy research for Wood Mackenzie, said that the duty would likely reduce the projected US solar installations by 10-15 percent over the next five years. He also said that, “It is a significant impact, but certainly not destructive to the end market.”
These Chinese solar panel industries play a vital role in the economy of the US. From providing solar power at a very cheap price, to making jobs available for over 23,000 people in the US. Chinese solar industries ought to be embraced by the US president, Donald Trump. However, his decision seemed to favour a number of domestic solar industries who were complaining about Chinese competition. Some include bankrupt Suniva (majority owned by the Chinese), and bankrupt SolarWorld, owned by the Germans.
The 30 percent surcharge imposed on the solar panel importing Chinese industries, would definitely leave a negative effect on the industries; and consequently affect employment and also the affordability of solar power. The Solar industry, SEIA, on the 22nd of January said on Twitter, “Today’s decision by President Trump is disappointing and will cause immediate & severe job losses across the country. The solar industry is too strong not to emerge from this, but the near-term impacts are unfortunate and avoidable.”
SEIA also said that, “This decision will cause roughly 23,000 American jobs to be lost this year, including many in manufacturing, and will cancel billions of dollars in investments in the U.S. economy. #SaveSolarJobs.”
The bulk of the cost of solar installations is not just the solar panels. About two third of the installation costs is from the commissions, the labor used, the wiring, and so on. The 30 percent imposed duty is estimated to increase the installation cost by 10 percent. An expert, Ramez Naam, said on his post on Twitter, “A 10% cost increase puts the total cost of utility-scale silicon solar in the US back to where it was in late 2015 or early 2016. At current pace of cost reduction, in another 1.5 years, costs will be back down to where they were in past years.”
Ramez who concluded that the industry would definitely be damaged said that, “None of this is to voice even the tiniest bit of support for Trump’s move on tariffs. It’s stupid, job destroying, bad for the planet, etc. We need to be moving faster, not slower. It will cause real damage to the solar industry for a couple years. But it won’t stop solar.”
There’s so much money that can be realized from the use of fossil fuels in America on a regular basis. The government as well as other agencies realize much gain. This is one thing the use of renewables does not offer America. You spend money upon installation; but after then you are left with no reason to keep paying money because all the energy used for such a system is free and cannot be monetized.
Many groups and industries in the US campaigned against the tariffs because they believe it will result in a “crisis” for the burgeoning industry and result in the loss of jobs for thousands of Americans. However, Suniva, a solar panel industry, majority-owned by Hong Kong, applauded the decision, saying that “Trump is sending a message that American innovation and manufacturing will not be bullied out of existence without a fight.” Considering comments from Mike Bloomberg on Twitter, some have come to conclude that it is all a plan to promote the production and use of fossil fuels in the U.S.
Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.