Solar import tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration in January are expected to cost the average residential customer $960 per solar system, adding up to what is essentially a $236.5 million tax imposed on American solar customers.
This is the high-level conclusion from a new report published by EnergySage, a leading US online comparison-shopping marketplace for rooftop solar, community solar, and financing. The new report, the company’s semiannual Solar Marketplace Intel Report, was launched in late September at Solar Power International, North America’s largest solar event, and is based on millions of transaction-level data points generated between July 2017 to June 2018.
The report is one of the first to analyze the economic impact of the import tariffs that Donald Trump imposed in January, following a Section 201 investigation carried out by the country’s International Trade Commission which was first brought by Suniva and SolarWorld Americas.
According to the report, the average residential solar customer in the United States looking to install a standard 6-kilowatt solar panel system will have to pay an additional $0.16 per watt (W), or approximately $960 for a standard set-up. When applied across all residential solar purchases made after September 2017, this results in extra costs amounting to $236.5 million.
“Any trade restrictions imposed on the solar industry hurts American consumers and American workers,” said EnergySage CEO and founder Vikram Aggarwal. “Yet despite these recent hurdles, the residential solar industry remains poised for tremendous growth over the next few years. All-time highs in consumer interest for solar-plus-storage, combined with falling prices and greater transparency, have mitigated the impact of these tariffs. As we show in this report, we have seen consistent increases in solar shopping levels on our Marketplace across the country.”
“These tariffs are yet another burden imposed on an industry that has long struggled with costs,” said Hugh Bromley, an analyst at Bloomberg NEF, an industry research firm leveraging EnergySage Marketplace data. “The residential solar industry is fragmenting. EnergySage data allows us to monitor competition among the so-called ‘long tail’ of local and regional players who don’t publicly release their earnings in quarterly reports.”
EnergySage’s report also found that, although the cost of solar fell across the country to $3.12/W, the quoted cost of solar actually increased in some top solar states such as Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina. That being said, cost increases only happened in states where the cost of solar was already below the national average.
In addition, the report found that Panasonic and LG are currently the two most popular brand of solar panels, making up 46% of all quotes submitted to shoppers on EnergySage in the first half of 2018.