US President Donald Trump recently approved high tariffs on imports of solar cells to protect the domestic American market. The presidential action has been taken to protect the domestic American market that is being badly hit by large scale import of solar cells mainly from China, the US Trade Representative (USTR) said.
USTR made the recommendations to the President based on consultations with the inter agency Trade Policy Committee (TPC) in response to findings by the independent, bipartisan US International Trade Commission (ITC) that increased imports of solar cells and modules are a substantial cause of serious injury to domestic manufacturers.
U.S. Trade Representative announced that Trump approved the recommendation to impose safeguard tariffs on imported solar cells and modules. The relief will include a tariff of 30 percent in the first year, 25 percent in the second year, 20 percent in the third year, and 15 percent in the fourth year. However, the first 2.5 gigawatts of imported solar cells will be exempt from the safeguard tariff in each of those four years. Some of the US based companies appreciated the move, while others said that this would slow down the solar movement in US.
Here is what they said:
SolarWorld Americas Inc., one of the largest U.S. crystalline-silicon cell and panel producer for more than 42 years, was a co-petitioner with Suniva Inc. in that case.
Juergen Stein, CEO and President of SolarWorld Americas Inc., responding to President Trump’s decision said “SolarWorld Americas appreciates the hard work of President Trump, the U.S. Trade Representative, and this administration in reaching today’s decision, and the President’s recognition of the importance of solar manufacturing to America’s economic and national security. We are still reviewing these remedies, and are hopeful they will be enough to address the import surge and to rebuild solar manufacturing in the United States. We will work with the U.S. Government to implement these remedies, including future negotiations, in the strongest way possible to benefit solar manufacturing and its thousands of American workers to ensure that U.S. solar manufacturing is world-class competitive for the long term.”
Michael Maulick, president and CEO of SunLink Corporation “We are very disappointed by President Donald Trump’s failure today to protect American workers and our country’s growing solar economy. His decision today to impose a 30 percent tariff on imported solar cells and modules will cause harm to the solar industry, impacting thousands of American jobs and stifling clean energy innovation. Artificial price hikes through tariffs only work to impede economic progress when the solar industry has worked for years to make solar affordable through innovation, a global supply chain, production scale growth and private investments.” He added “While we have always been module agnostic and supported modules of all types, we also believe the power of choice ultimately provides the most flexibility for customers to make utility-scale and commercial solar more pervasive. We remain committed to working closely with the energy industry and our manufacturing peers towards a solution that supports domestic manufacturing and domestic innovation with a global mindset to keep America solar strong.”
“While higher prices for the modules we buy are never welcome, the new tariff rate was widely anticipated,” said Doran Hole, ReneSola’s Chief Executive Officer of North America and Group Vice President of Strategy. “We believe the U.S. project development industry has already adjusted to the tariffs, and the impact on growth should be benign.”
In September 2017, the company divested its manufacturing and LED distribution businesses, and is now a pure play downstream player with robust pipeline and operating projects around the world. Accordingly, the company anticipates that the only impact of the tariffs will be to the purchase price of modules used in only one of its markets, the U.S. The company believes that ongoing technical advancement in the cell and module manufacturing industry will drive continued price reductions in the years ahead, which will be beneficial to its business model.
Hole continued, “We do not expect the temporarily higher prices of some modules to diminish the rapid growth of new development opportunities in the U.S. Community solar and rooftop distributed generation are two examples of the burgeoning activity we are pursuing. As module prices continue to decline over time, we expect to see accelerating activity in those segments. We remain very optimistic about the growth prospects for the solar energy industry, both in the U.S. and around the world.”
John Billingsley, Sunfinity Solar Chairman and CEO, said “The tariffs announced recently are not a game changer for solar energy – not for businesses or homeowners. Solar maintains at least two big advantages over traditional energy:
- It’s clean and renewable…
- Even with the tariffs, in many cases it still pencils out to be more affordable and allows businesses and homeowners to be in charge of their energy needs.
“Sunfinity Solar begins this year with great momentum,” Billingsley said. “We expect 2018 to be a breakout year for our business. We have been anticipating the potential tariffs for several months and are already positioned to continue our aggressive growth plans. The market is behind renewables, and that momentum will only continue to grow.”
United Steelworkers (USW)
The United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard said “The decision to provide relief to the domestic washing machine and solar industries is important to the workers not only in those sectors, but those who are part of the supply chain. The USW provides the steel, aluminum, rubber and other materials used in washing machines and makes silicon and other products utilized in solar cell and module production.” “For far too long, our trading partners have gamed the system, making repeated predatory attacks on the U.S. market, expecting that they will get away with it. The USW has fought back by utilizing trade laws, but it’s been a never-ending fight.” He added “Our goal has been to have our government stand up and implement a consistent, comprehensive trade policy that makes clear that if a trading partner breaks the law, or tries to cheat and steal our jobs, there will be an immediate response. The announced action is a step forward in drawing a line in the sand that unfair trade will not be allowed.”
“This is important, but far from enough. Sitting on the president’s desk are reports on the impact of imports of steel and aluminum on our national security interests. It’s time to act on those sectors as well.”