9 Dec 2019
Solar Industry Association Highlights Negative Impact of Section 201 Tariffs
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has released a study arguing that the current Section 201 tariffs on imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic solar cells and modules “have slowed U.S. progress on climate and environmental issues.” The methodology used by the association estimates that the tariffs have led to a reduction of 10.5 gigawatts in possible solar power generation, which will increase carbon dioxide emissions by 26 million metric tonnes – equivalent to seven coal-powered electrical plants. SEIA also estimates that higher U.S. solar panel prices resulting from the tariffs have led to the loss of 62,000 U.S. jobs (laid off or not hired), compared to just 2,000 new U.S. jobs resulting from the tariffs.
The study was released just prior to an U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) hearing on the effects of the tariffs, where a SEIA representative asked that the tariffs be eliminated. On the other hand, tariff petitioner Suniva claimed that it will be restarting solar cell production in the United States thanks to the tariffs.
The tariffs on solar cells and modules are scheduled to be reduced to 20 percent in 2020 and 15 percent in 2021, but speakers at the hearing also addressed the current tariff-rate quota (TRQ) that exempts 2.5 gigawatts of solar cells (but not modules) from the tariffs for all four years. Several participants representing foreign and U.S. solar cell producers argued that growing U.S. demand for solar cells will exceed the current TRQ level and asked for an increase.
SEIA’s study points out that the uncertainty associated with the implementation of the tariffs and the TRQ, along with continuing tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, have exacerbated the negative impact of the Section 201 tariffs on clean solar energy production.