Solar installations were down 2 percent from 2017, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) latest report. Nonresidential solar photovoltaic capacity saw an annual decline of 8 percent, with utility-scale solar use contracting to drop 7 percent in 2018.
The drop is being attributed to tariffs that the Trump administration placed on foreign imports of aluminum and steel last February, which solar companies relied on for the creation of solar cells used to create electrical energy.
Last year it was estimated that the tariffs led to the cancelation and freezing of investments of more than $2.5 billion in large installation projects, as well as thousands of solar jobs. At least one major U.S. solar company had to lay off a significant portion of its workforce following the tariffs. Some companies were later able to gain an exemption from the rule.
“The solar industry experienced growing pains in 2018, in large part due to the unnecessary tariffs that were imposed on solar cells and modules, but this report still finds a significant reason for optimism,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA president.