Earlier this month, the U.S. Commerce Department announced new tariffs on solar products from China, including both solar panels and solar cells. Another upcoming case may result in tariffs on Taiwanese solar products. There are two things we can be sure of related to these tariffs. First, these tariffs will cause the prices of Chinese and Taiwanese solar panels shipped to the U.S. to increase. Second, these tariffs will make it more attractive to manufacture solar products in the U.S.
This current trade case, as well as an earlier case that resulted in tariffs on Chinese solar cells (but not modules), was initiated by Solarworld, a German company with a production facility in Oregon. Essentially, SolarWorld filed antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) petitions against various solar products from China and Taiwan. As these tariffs are applied — thereby increasing the price of Chinese solar panels — all non-Chinese manufacturers (including SolarWorld) will be more cost competitive.
On the other hand, prices of solar panels are likely to increase across the board — estimates range from 10 percent to over 20 percent (the average tariff is 26 percent). This price increase will be passed along to solar customers of all sizes, from utility scale down to residential rooftops. So the cost of a solar installation will go up, which will inevitably reduce the rate of solar installations in the U.S.
AD and CVD tariffs are an extremely complicated subject, and various trade lawyers are having a field day sorting through the details. What's even more complicated is the impact that these tariffs will have on the solar industry (both manufacturing and installations), as well as the United States' overall manufacturing base. To help shed some light on this subject, our guest on this week's Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is John Smirnow, VP of Trade and Competitiveness at the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Jennifer Runyon also recently had the opportunity to chat with John Smirnow this week at the 2014 PV America conference in Boston, Mass. Check out their discussion on the trade case below:
About The Energy Show
As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don't have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs — very affordably.
The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20-minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we'll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices.
About Your Host
Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.
His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.
Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies. He's been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.
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