Better ways to foster solar innovation and save jobs = Stimulate Growth to Create Jobs
The U.S. solar industry is nervously awaiting President Donald Trump’s decision whether to impose punitive duties on imported solar panels and related equipment or even restrict some of those imports altogether. It could come any day between now and late January.
The U.S. solar industry has enjoyed unprecedented growth in recent years, thanks to the rapidly declining cost to install solar systems and tax breaks for homeowners, businesses and utilities that have expanded demand but are being phased out. Prices have plunged to roughly US $1.50 per watt from around $6 in 2010 due to both innovation that made it less expensive to make panels anywhere and cheap imports. In 2016, 87 percent of U.S. solar installations used foreign-produced panels, also known as modules, primarily from China.
Imposing tariffs on imported panels would cloud that outlook, largely because manufacturing accounts for less than 15 percent of U.S. solar jobs while installation amounts to more than half of them, according to the Solar Foundation’s annual census. If panels get more expensive, the cost to go solar will rise and demand will fall — along with the impetus to employ so many installers. The Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group that represents many companies in the industry and opposes the duties, estimates that imposing them could double solar prices and cost the industry 88,000 jobs.