Solar Prices Continue to Drop Despite U.S. Tariffs on Chinese Equipment

It seems two new U.S. tariffs on solar panel makers haven’t stymied market prices or demand. While the import tariffs have caused Chinese manufacturers to buy more expensive supplies, the price for solar panels has actually continued to fall.

Solar panel image via Shutterstock

The new tariffs make up about 35 percent of solar equipment from China. The U.S. applied the new duties because of illegal dumping of inventories into the American market.

Chinese manufacturers and others have complained that the tariffs will hamper the industry by increasing the cost of solar panels.

Canadian Solar Chief Financial Officer Michael Potter said: “It’s not like it’s costing a lot more today compared to what the prices used to be, but there’s certain to be a price difference now.” Canadian Solar makes most of its panels in China. The company has been buying solar cells from Taiwan in an effort to avoid the duties.

As the U.S. looks to install more than 3 gigawatts in the next year, most Chinese solar panel makers are still looking to keep their claws in the American market, but are looking to buy materials outside of China.

According to the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM), U.S. solar imports from China decreased by 45 percent in May, compared to a year ago. Imports are on the rise from Malaysia, Taiwan, and the Philippines.

The price for solar panels is also dropping: 78 percent in the last week, as reported by PV Insights. Panel prices have shrunk by about 20 percent at this point in 2012. Prices dropped a total of about 50 percent by the end of 2011.

Some, like David Kurzman, are calling the tariffs too little, too late. Kurzman, a renewable energy expert and portfolio manager at Leuthod Weeden Capital Management, said that in the next two years, Chinese manufacturers will have the tariffs beat by moving work to other countries.

Source: Reuters