Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced their decision to impose tariffs on Chinese solar panel manufacturers in the 30 percent range, finding that the manufacturers had sold their products on the U.S. market for less than what it cost to make and ship them.
This move will greatly impact the solar industry in the U.S. Below, our CEO Tony Clifford gives his response to the decision:
As a leading solar developer and EPC contractor from residential through small utility-scale, Standard Solar will be directly impacted by the higher prices for solar modules likely resulting from this decision. These higher prices are going to result in slower growth for the American solar industry. This is truly ironic as it is occurring at a time when the American solar industry is within striking distance of retail cost-competitiveness with grid-supplied electricity. In the past two years the American solar industry has grown to more than 100,000 jobs — more than 70 percent of which are downstream from manufacturing. This is the industry segment that will be most harmed by today’s decision.
Whether American cell and module manufacturers will be really helped by this decision is still an open question. PV manufacturing is a truly global industry. Chinese companies are not the only foreign manufacturers shipping cells and modules to the United States. I’m sure that solar manufacturers in other Asian and European countries will be able to profitably offer solar modules in the U. S. market at prices well within the “cost + 31% tax” that will be applied to Chinese modules. This decision may prove to be more of an incentive for Japanese, Korean and other foreign manufacturers than American manufacturers.
Also, there is the possibility that this decision distracts the industry from its efforts to reach cost-competitiveness with grid-supplied power within the 4.5 years we have left of the 30 percent federal ITC. If the solar industry hits retail cost-competitiveness with the grid-supplied power in a number of states by the end of 2016, we will reach a “tipping point” where there will be no stopping the industry. If we don’t, it will not matter who wins or loses a trade war in 2012.