Trump’s tariffs have harmed Americans by raising prices, cutting jobs, and losing the US billions in investment opportunities. From 2017–2021, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) expects 62,000 fewer jobs in the solar industry — which is more than the entire US coal mining industry.
SEIA reports that enough solar power to power 1.8 million homes has been lost. This means that, thanks to people not having a job in this vital industry due to Trump’s tariffs and the needless trade war with China, 26 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions have been added to the atmosphere.
This is also equal to $19 billion in lost investment. For a country that can’t afford to feed its elderly and poor due to “not having enough money,” perhaps throwing away money like this isn’t the answer. Trump would rather cut off those on food stamps. How is this making America great?
In 2017, a manufacturer that produces domestic cells and modules petitioned the US International Trade Commission (USITC) for protection from imports and proposed a remedy that would have ended up doubling the cost of US crystalline silicon photovoltaic (c-Si PV) products in the US. This led to an investigation that wound up creating an atmosphere of uncertainty for American solar businesses and disrupted the market in 2017 and 2018. In January of 2018, President Trump signed an order imposing tariffs on c-SI PV imports from all countries for the next four years. The rate was its highest in 2018, at 30%, decreased to 25% in 2019, and decreases to 20% in 2020 and 15% in 2021.
What Does This Mean For Americans Buying Solar?
First, the average American consumer needs to understand why the prices are being raised. It all boils down to how solar panels are made. Some of these parts are made in China with c-Si PV. Those components are what the tariffs are on.
In other words, due to one manufacturer wanting protection from imports, our costs went up. Thanks to these tariffs, Americans pay higher costs on any solar product with c-Si PV. Yes, technology has advanced and lowered solar prices but thanks to these tariffs, consumers in the US pay among the highest in the world for solar and will until 2022.
People switch to solar because they want to save money, and these higher prices will have them using more gas, coal, or wind instead. The net effect, though, is higher electricity prices and less clean energy.
Trump’s tariffs hurt demand by making solar a more expensive option than it should be. As they say, tariffs are essentially taxes on US consumers.
Solar energy now competes with all forms of electricity, but individual situations depend on various factors, and raising the price on the panels makes it less logical to some Americans. It’s a similar story for utility-scale solar, but it’s not just about averages costs of new power plants — it’s also how well utility-scale solar competes with existing power plants.
It bears repeating: Trump’s tariffs lost us 62,000 jobs or job opportunities. $19 billion in investment opportunities have been lost and 10.5 GW of clean energy have not been installed.
In fact, tariffs on solar cells and modules are costing Americans more than $10.5 million per day in unrealized economic activity.
When it comes to making America great, making Americans pay more money for energy — and reducing the amount of clean energy we install — isn’t the way we do it. Neither is losing jobs or investment. No, we need to continue to evolve as a nation, and the advancement of technology is part of that.
Trump’s tariffs and these egotistical war games he wants to play are harming the very people he swore an oath to protect.