A report from HJ Mai in Pacific Business News discusses the recent decision to impose tariffs on solar product imports and what impact it will have on Hawaii’s solar industry.
President Trump recently approved recommendations to impose a 30% tariff on the import of solar cells and modules. The purpose of which is to “provide relief to U.S. manufacturers and impose safeguard tariffs” according to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Solar industry experts strongly disagree and warn these tariffs will hurt Hawaii’s recovering solar industry.
The decision to impose tariffs resulted from a trade case brought before the ITC by now-bankrupt Chinese-owned manufacturer Suniva and German-owned SolarWorld. The complaint argues that solar supplies from overseas “present an existential threat to America’s solar industry” and urged steep tariffs on imported solar products. According to the article, 80 percent of solar panel products in the U.S. come from overseas.
The Solar Energy Industries Association expressed disappointment with the president’s decision. “While tariffs in this case will not create adequate cell or module manufacturing to meet U.S. demand, or keep foreign-owned Suniva and SolarWorld afloat, they will create a crisis in a part of our economy that has been thriving, which will ultimately cost tens of thousands of hard-working, blue-collar Americans their jobs,” SEIA President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper said in a statement.
“These tariffs will not accomplish what the complainants—Suniva and SolarWorld—wanted, which is transform their money-losing operations into profitability,” Marco Mangelsdorf, president of ProVision Solar told Pacific Business News. He does not expect prices to raise in the short-term while suppliers use their existing stockpiled inventory. “Once that inventory is gone, I expect price increases in the 10-15 cents per watt range, which won’t make for that much of a bump to the end purchasers of installed PV systems.”
“This is bad for Hawaii, it’s bad for renewables, it’s just going to raise costs on solar and that is just not good,” Scott Seu, senior vice president, public affairs at Hawaiian Electric, told PBN in a previous interview.