New Solar Tariffs — Already Having an Impact?

The dark truth about the newly imposed solar tariff is that it will not remedy what ails United States solar businesses. It might already be making things worse. 

This installment of “The Energy Gang” podcast dives into the pros and cons of new solar import barriers that took effect February 7, 2018. Sudden 30 percent tariffs are indeed spurring talk of new onshore solar module assembly plants, says guest Julia Pyper.

There’s a hitch: The plans that solar manufacturers are discussing would not represent enough capacity to meet the volume needs of a growing solar industry in the United States. Installers and developers are at risk of losing jobs because of capacity constraints. Some manufacturers had signed multiyear deals before the quota was imposed — so U.S. jobs could already be on the chopping block.

New manufacturing would make up for the job losses, right? Not even close. Module manufacturing is highly automated. Any plausible number of new U.S. plants are not likely to employ thousands. And when the economics change, those plants can close as easily as they opened. Tariffs intended to encumber solar exporters for the next four years are likely to harm America first.

The Energy Gang” is an informal industry-insider podcast for green energy business listeners. Co-hosts Katherine Hamilton (Partner at 38 North Solutions) and Jigar Shah (founder of SunEdison), led by Greentech Media Editor in Chief Stephen Lacey, jump on a conference call every week to spar about the headlines. They share their deep industry knowledge and engage in lively discussions about the technologies, policies and market forces shaping a global energy transformation.

This anthology of energy podcasts would not be complete without this show. Stephen Lacey and I started podcasting about energy wa-a-ay before most people knew what a podcast was. We became friends while he was a reporter-producer at Renewable Energy World and I had just started Energy Priorities. We’ve supported each other’s podcast work, appeared on each other’s shows and collaborated on web pieces together.

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About the Author:
Denis founded Energy Priorities Magazine on Earth Day 2004 and hosts the radio program by the same name distributed by NPR. He has authored hundreds of cleantech articles for a variety of publications, ranging from Sustainable Industries Journal to the New York Times, and he has been interviewed by major news outlets, including FORTUNE and MSNBC. He lives in the Seattle, WA area. Follow him on Twitter: @Cleantech. Contact him here. Disclosure information.
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