President Donald Trump approves 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels

January 23, 2018

Solar Section 201 approved

President Donald Trump on Monday imposed a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels, per the recommendation of The United States International Trade Commission.

The decision will most greatly impact China, whom President Trump promised to be hard on during his campaign.

The Chinese government heavily subsidizes its solar industry to help its manufacturing. The cheaper, and sometimes more efficient, panels crept into United States markets and allowed for installers to offer domestic customers cheaper alternatives.

Though the move is being lauded by those who believe it will lead to an increase in domestic solar manufacturing, there is overwhelming evidence that the decision stands to burden the industry.

A hindrance to the domestic solar market

The United States solar market is growing 17 percent faster than the economy and provides jobs to manufacturers, installers, designers, architects, and its impact is widespread.

It is estimated that up to 23,000 solar jobs will be lost in 2018 as a result of Solar Section 201.

International governments are heavily investing in clean and renewable energy sources to fuel their future. Denmark projects to be the leader of solar energy by 2020 with 70 percent of the country harnessing clean and renewable sources.

As governments subsidize solar production there stands to be reason to support the domestic solar cause through imports. Expanding the United States’ solar arsenal will help it gain energy independence, help reduce carbon emissions, and support economic growth.

The myth that imposing tariffs on solar imports will support domestic manufacturing fast enough to help the United States keep pace with China and international markets will soon be evident. The United States manufacturing sector creates parts for imported products and is growing despite a reliance on imported goods.

The stand against the solar industry is one that without doubt carries greater political importance than appears on the surface. While the decision is painted with a patriotic agenda, Trump received over $10 million from fossil fuel industries for his inauguration — money he has not received from solar lobbies.

President Trump has overwhelmingly backed the fossil fuel industry. His “America First” stance was made clear early in his campaign when he promised to revitalize the ailing coal industry.

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