Here's Why You Should Know About Trump's Tariff on Solar Energy

Disclaimer: The views in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the opinion of Her Campus.

Courtesy of: Politico


President Donald Trump announced that he is going to impose tariffs on solar energy components, which is a total blow to the renewable energy industry.

The 30% tariff on foreign-made solar cells and modules (as well as large washing machines, oddly enough) will gradually drop down to 15% over the course of four years. The first 2.5 gigawatts of imported cells are exempt from the tariff, which will enable existing solar manufactures to access cheap cells. This is considered generous compared to what companies like SolarWorld and Suniva were advocating for, which shows some restraint on behalf of the president.

The Trump administration claims that their decision is rooted in the interests of the American people and that the tariff is a way to put American companies and jobs first. However, the Solar Energy Industries Association (or SEIA) projects that the tariff will cost roughly 23,000 Americans their jobs while also causing billions of dollars in solar investments to be delayed or canceled.

For Trump, the tariff responds to complaints from two companies, SolarWorld and Suniva, that China’s cheap imports are hurting American manufacturing. Both companies have suffered losses over the years, and Suniva actually filed for bankruptcy protection in April of 2017.

However, other American solar installers and manufacturers state that the tariff will force them to raise their prices and will hurt the overall demand for renewable energy.

Not only has this faced backlash from solar companies in the United States, it also can potentially increase trade tensions with other nations, such as China and South Korea. China produces 60% of the world’s solar cells, which has caused the United States solar manufacturing industry to almost disappear, according to the U.S. Trade Representative. 

So what does that mean for us? States that have emerging solar markets, like Florida and South Carolina, will be significantly impacted. Any growth or progress that is being made in regards to solar energy is expected to slow down considerably.

All in all, President Donald Trump’s tariff on solar energy has created mixed feelings across the board. It can be viewed as a win-win situation in which American solar manufacturing is prioritized over foreign-made cells and modules, or it can be viewed as a lose-lose due to its impact on trade relations and blow to the solar energy industry. Only time will tell.

Solar energy is a growing industry in the United States that has the potential to lessen our dependence on dangerous fossil fuels. While this tariff is a blow to the solar energy industry, there is no doubt that they will be able to bounce back. Small-scale solar developers will likely take a hit; but on a global scale, solar energy is still making strides and won’t be stopping anytime soon.