U.S. utility-scale solar contracts ‘exploded’ in 2018 despite Trump tariffs

Procurement of solar energy by U.S. utilities “exploded” in the first half of 2018, prompting industry trade group the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) to boost its five-year installation forecast despite Trump’s steep tariffs on imported panels.

A record 8.5 gigawatts (GW) of utility solar projects were procured in the first six months of this year after Trump’s 30 percent tariffs on panels produced overseas were announced in January.

According to the report by Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and SEIA, procurement soared in part because the 30 percent tariff was lower than feared, and panel prices fell faster than expected because China pulled back its subsidies in June, creating an oversupply of modules in the global market that eroded the impact of the tariff.

Thus, the forecast for utility-scale solar was raised for 2018 through 2023 by 1.9 GW.

The forecast is still 8 percent lower than before the tariffs were announced.

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