Taking a backseat to the shutdown news yesterday was an announcement that the Trump administration imposed a 30% tariff on imported solar panel technology:
In the biggest blow he’s dealt to the renewable energy industry yet, President Donald Trump decided on Monday to slap tariffs on imported solar panels.
The U.S. will impose duties of as much as 30 percent on solar equipment made abroad, a move that threatens to handicap a $28 billion industry that relies on parts made abroad for 80 percent of its supply. Just the mere threat of tariffs has shaken solar developers in recent months, with some hoarding panels and others stalling projects in anticipation of higher costs. The Solar Energy Industries Association has projected tens of thousands of job losses in a sector that employed 260,000.
This is a bad one folks, with immediate negative consequences. In addition to thousands of lost jobs, one estimate predicts a 10% to 15% reduction in new solar installations through 2022. Reliance on cheaper imported solar panels has allowed the industry to grow at a rapid pace in recent years:
The U.S. installed nearly 15 gigawatts of solar power in 2016, according to the clean-tech consulting firm GTM Research, up from 2 gigawatts five years before and a tenth of a gigawatt a decade earlier. Huge solar farms have spread across the open desert in states like Arizona, California and Nevada, and rooftop solar systems have become increasingly popular for homes and businesses.
That growth was made possible by cheap imported solar panels, particularly from China.
Backpedaling on renewable energy at a crucial moment in the fight against climate change is obviously not a good thing, yet the Trump administration seems to have made this their mission. Unfortunately, the immediacy of this decision probably makes this the most concrete attack on U.S. global warming initiatives so far.