tariff on solar panels
On January 22, 2018 the Trump administration imposed a tariff on solar panels. The tariffs are 30 percent in year one, declining to 25 percent in year two, 20 percent in year three and 15 percent in year four.

The U.S. Trade Representative said in an online statement that it is withdrawing the exclusion on tariffs for imported bifacial solar panels.

According to a notice from the Representative, the technology will be subject to a 25 percent tariff starting Oct. 28, 2019.

The exclusion had been a reprieve for the solar industry which lost thousands of jobs and put projects on hold as a result of the Trump administration tariffs.

Due to the positive business case made possible by the exemption, some panel manufacturers had begun shifting supply chains to produce more bifacial panels abroad.

While bifacial panels accounted for just 3 percent of the solar market last year, they are gaining traction since their double-sided nature means they absorb more power and are therefore more efficient.

But like any other new technology in the early stages of development, manufacturers try to find cost-effective ways of manufacturing thereby choosing to produce in China.

Also, stripping the exemption represents a setback to developers building big U.S. solar projects.

This fresh blow to the industry means U.S. based solar panel manufacturers like First Solar and SunPower will regain an edge on these foreign-manufactured solar panels.

The news was described as “an extraordinary and unprecedented turn of events” by the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA)’s President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper.

In a public statement, she noted that the exemption was hastily rescinded “without any opportunity for public notice and comment”.

Derick Lila
Derick is a Clark University graduate—and Fulbright alumni with a Master's Degree in Environmental Science, and Policy. He has over a decade of solar industry research, marketing, and content strategy experience.

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