DOE launches “The Solar Prize” to spur U.S. solar manufacturing

Solar energy isn’t just a tool to reduce emissions and help slow climate change – it’s a job creator.

“We import most of our oil from overseas”, he said.

Solar is projected to continue to grow for the foreseeable future.

His administration placed a 30 percent tariff on most imported solar modules from the country.

“Many American manufacturers went out of business because they couldn’t compete”, Beck said.

Chief Economist for Trump Gary Cohn says, “Right now we’re not in a fair level playing field”.

Some people still think of these alternative energy sources as hippy-dippy stuff that can’t survive without big government subsidies, but the reality is that they’ve become cost-competitive with conventional energy, and their cost is still falling fast.

The data highlighting the huge employment potential of solar comes from the most recent National Solar Jobs Census. The tariffs will take effect February 7.

Suniva and SolarWorld, two foreign-owned manufacturers operating in the U.S., filed a complaint in May 2017 with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), saying that they were forced into bankruptcy because of competition from cheap imports. The report indicated that in 2016, there were 260,077 people employed in the US solar industry. While the price of the metal has rallied 23 percent in the past year, it’s still about 19 percent below a 2011 peak. This quote above is via an email from Saule, the manufacturer referenced in the article linked to the news we covered recently.

The news for consumers is not all bad, especially if you’ve already had solar panels installed.

“In the solar case, the Chinese have strategically attacked this industry, taken the whole thing away in less than a decade …” While America counts China as its biggest market for the oilseed used in animal feed, swelling global stockpiles and bumper crops forecast from Brazil to Argentina mean Beijing has a choice of sellers to turn to in the event of a retaliation on US imports. Almost 30 USA solar-manufacturing facilities had closed in the past five years, they said, as China plotted to flood the global market with cheap products to weaken US manufacturing. “I have no doubt we’ll build out a lot of that”, he said.

The solar panel tariff is more interesting, and more disturbing, because it will surely destroy many more jobs than it will create.

Christopher Fortson, a marketing manager at Santa Fe-based Positive Energy Solar, said panels are only a portion of the cost for a project, but a significant one. So a 30 percent increase in the price – split between consumers and producers – would result in a small overall increase. After all, USA appliances tend to be more expensive, because we tend to pay our workers more than Chinese and Korean companies.

Solar energy is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S. and now employs more than half a million Americans. By discouraging growth of solar, the administration is also bolstering the fossil fuel industry, whose emissions warm the climate, with potentially catastrophic consequences. The tariffs don’t make sense – unless the Trump administration really intends to deal a blow to solar energy in general.

Robert Watson, who owns Solar Electric Texas along with solar businesses in Arizona and New Mexico, used around 30,000 solar panels a year ago and 99 percent of them were from South Korea.

Because the USA solar industry is about installation – not manufacturing – we will lose jobs and businesses will be hurt.

President Trump Approves Relief for U.S. Washing Machine and Solar Cell Manufacturers | United States Trade