It’s probably going to get more expensive for Americans to buy solar panels.
The Commerce Department has made a preliminary ruling that it will impose duties ranging from 18.56% to 35.21% on solar cells and modules from China.
Shayle Kann, senior vice president for research at Greentech Media, said that while Commerce’s final ruling won’t come for another few months, this is a strong indication of where the department will ultimately come down.
“Even if you take these alone — average tariffs for most [Chinese and Taiwanese] manufacturers of 27% — that’s significant,” he told BI. “If you take average panel prices today, which is in the low $US0.70s [per watt], and increase it by 27%, you’re approaching $US1 a watt, which is very significant compared to where we are today.”
Utility-scale solar projects, which comprises the largest share of both new and overall PV installations in the U.S., are likely to be most affected, since they are the most price sensitive, Kann said.
“27% will certainly kill a lot of projects at margin,” Kann said.
The tariffs were sought by the American unit of SolarWorld, a panel manufacturing firm based in Germany. The firm has accused the Chinese of offering illicit subsidies, and separately accused China and Taiwan of illegal dumping. Today’s ruling concerns the subsidies.
SolarWorld hailed the decision. “Today is a strong win for the U.S. solar industry,” SolarWorld Industries America President Mukesh Dulani said according to SolarServer.com. “We look forward to the end of illegal Chinese government intervention in the U.S. solar market, and we applaud Commerce for its work that supports fair trade.”
Ironically, GTM Research reported this afternoon that the U.S. saw the second greatest volume of photovoltaic installations on record in Q1 2014 — 1.3 gigawatts worth.
The last word on the issue won’t be known until this fall, when the U.S. International Trade Commission makes a final ruling. But this looks grim for end-users.