Donald Trump may have found a unique way to bring back the beleaguered coal industry. His administration just announced it will impose a 30% tariff on most imported solar modules. While the tariff rate declines over the next few years—and phases out after four—the tariff will make it way more expensive to tap into renewable energy in the U.S. and could cost jobs in America’s $29 billion solar industry.
Solar panel prices have fallen by more than 70% since 2010, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, making the eco-friendly power option affordable for many homeowners and solar power competitive with coal and natural gas. The tariff is meant to boost the competitiveness of U.S.-made solar panels, however, as Reuters reports, manufacturing accounts for just 14% of jobs in the solar sector. Most U.S. jobs in solar are in installation, and those jobs could disappear as many homeowners may simply choose not to install solar panels at all due to the price increase.
According to CBS, a small section of the U.S. solar industry is excited about the protectionist measure. However, a larger number of solar companies say their costs will rise and jobs in installation and associated parts manufacturing will be lost. Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, predicted the tariffs will lead to the loss of roughly 23,000 American jobs this year.ML