Solar industry shows strength despite tariffs

Source: David Ferris, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The solar industry is growing a little faster, and losing jobs a little slower, than it expected after a round of tariffs made key parts more expensive, according to new data.

The United States installed 2.5 gigawatts of solar panels in the first quarter of 2018, 13 percent more than the same quarter last year, GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said in a new report. More than half of new U.S. electricity — 55 percent — came from solar power.

Meanwhile, the industry has lost about 8,000 jobs this year, mainly among installers of large, utility-scale solar farms, said SEIA spokesman Dan Whitten. Earlier, SEIA had predicted a loss of 23,000 jobs this year.

In January, the Trump administration imposed tariffs on imports of solar cells and modules from most countries, in response to a plea from two manufacturers for protection from inexpensive imports.

The job losses may not be over, Whitten said, adding, “We think that toward the end of this year and into 2019 that negative impacts are still going to happen.”

The report projected the market to be flat this year, to grow in 2019 and to accelerate further in the early 2020s.