Higher Prices & Product Shortages Expected Due To Recent Solar Ruling
There’s an interesting (and terrifying) solar trade case taking shape in America. The implications could raise the price of the majority of solar panels that are installed, making it more expensive for non-domestic manufacturers, installers, home and business owners to go solar.
If you’re considering going solar this year, or any time in the near future, we encourage you to educate yourself on the issues below, and make the switch to solar power sooner rather than later if you want the best price possible.
What It Is
Last week the International Trade Commission, an agency that reviews and rules on trade issues, decided that Chinese solar panel imports threaten American solar manufacturers. Their ruling gives the White House an option to impose a tariff on imported of solar panels.
Suniva and SolarWorld are calling for duties of 40 cents per watt on imported cells and a floor price of 78 cents per watt on modules.
What It Means
A tariff is a tax or duty to be paid on a particular class of imports or exports, designed to fix the price of a given product or service, in this case the price of solar cells and solar modules (panels).
An analysis by GTM research shows the tariff could cause prices for big utility-size solar installs to double in 2018.
And on the residential solar side, a 15 percent jump in system prices is expected, based on the latest average price figures from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
The decision on whether to impose a tariff on solar imports now goes to the Trump administration.
When It Goes Into Place
The ITC is expected to hold a public hearing on October 3rd as it considers potential remedies to help the Georgia and Oregon-based solar manufacturers.
The commission will then forward those recommendations to President Trump in November at which point he’ll have sixty days or about two months to decide what to do. Expect the final decision to be announced before the end of January 2018.
Who It Affects
The case was brought by two American solar manufacturers – SolarWorld USA and Suniva – both of which recently declared bankruptcy. These manufacturers are seeking to protect their businesses from competitive, lower priced solar panels which are manufactured overseas.
Ironically, though they both have production facilities in America, SolarWorld USA is owned by a German company (Solarworld AG), and Suniva’s majority owner is a Chinese firm.
Aside from end-users would have to pay higher prices for imported solar products, solar installers and subcontractors would be the worst off if the commission approves the request. Tariffs could destroy 88,000 jobs in installation, sales and construction, according to estimates by SEIA.
Who Is Immune
The tariffs are aimed at Chinese, Mexican, and South Korean solar manufacturers, which account for the majority of products installed across the globe.
Solar cells and modules made in Australia, Canada, Colombia, Jordan, Panama, Peru, Singapore,and participants in the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic) are not subject to import tariffs. None of these countries have a substantial manufacturing presence today, but could become attractive places to invest in the future.
What You Can Do To Prepare
Expect sticker shock and product shortages if the Trump administration imposes the tariffs and price floors that have been proposed.
According to NREL’s analysis a 5.7-kilowatt solar rooftop system would increase by $2,400 dollars. And GTM Research noted that stocking up inventory probably was done by the utility sector, which has more ability than residential installers to buy panels in bulk and stockpile spare inventory.
An Arizona-based solar installer was quoted on NPR saying there’s “a sort of panic buying mode in the marketplace right now,” with installers scrambling to stock up on panels.
The Bottom Line
All indications point to some tumultuous times coming to the solar industry. If you’ve been on the fence, or you plan to go solar in the next 12 months, consider acting sooner than later to lock in the best possible pricing. If you live in Texas, Request a free solar savings analysis to learn how much you could save with solar power.
About Alba Energy
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