Solar to jump 6% despite tariffs

Source: Christa Marshall, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The global solar PV market is set to grow 6 percent this year, despite tariffs enacted by President Trump.

GTM Research reported this morning that than 100 gigawatts of photovoltaic capacity will be added for the first time ever, even though the world’s largest solar markets — the United States, China, India and Japan — are expected to decline collectively 7 percent this year partly because of ongoing trade battles, the market research firm said.

Annual installations of at least 100 GW globally also are projected to continue through at least 2022, according to the report.

The reason for the growth is that solar is surging in a broader range of countries across Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. Africa alone is expected to see a 281 percent jump in capacity, with help from a 1.8 GW solar park in Egypt. Mexico has been adding more solar as a result of the 2013 overhaul of its electricity markets.

In February, Trump enacted 30 percent tariffs on solar modules and cells that are set to decline over a four-year period. Much of the solar industry slammed the move as a threat to jobs, while tariff supporters said the warnings were overblown (Greenwire, Feb. 19).

Overall, the report estimates the U.S. market will flatten and add about the same amount of solar PV capacity as last year — 10.6 GW.

“Trade restrictive measures continue to be a barrier to growth in the U.S. and India,” said GTM Research solar analyst Rishab Shrestha in a statement. “Although the availability of tariff-free modules in the U.S. and the announcement that compensation will be provided to Indian developers negatively impacted by changes to tariffs and duties provides some encouragement.”

China’s PV solar growth also is expected decline from 53 GW to 48 GW. However, distributed solar installations are expected to be more than 50 percent of the country’s total annual installed capacity for the first time in history.