May 14, 2018 Read More →

GOP Senators Back Solar, Seek Exemption From Trump Tariff

PV Magazine:

On May 9th, eight Republican U.S. senators from strong solar states, and a couple of aspirants, signed a letter requesting that ‘utility-scale’ 72 cell, 1500-V solar modules be exempted from the 30% Section 201 solar panel tariff.

The eight Republican U.S. senators are Thom Tillis (NC), Dean Heller (NV), Jerry Moran (KS), Cory Gardner (CO), Lindsey Graham (SC), Richard Burr (NC), Pat Roberts (KS), and Tim Scott (SC). North Carolina and Nevada are solar heavyweights, and Colorado also has a healthy solar market. South Carolina has recently seen the public turn toward solar with its ongoing $9 billion nuclear boondoggle, and Kansas is really just getting started with solar.

If this tariff were to be effectively rescinded for utility-scale customers the results could be significant in terms of total volume relative to the whole of the United States, as the utility scale sector is bearing the greatest consequences of this solar panel tariff. GTM Research estimates just short of 600 MW in cancelled installations as a result of the tariff in 2018, but a jump to about 1.6 GW in 2019. For comparison’s sake, the residential and commercial solar markets were about 2 GW each in 2017.

The reason the utility-scale solar power sector suffers so much versus other sectors is that the solar panel itself represents a much greater part of final installation costs. In a $1/W, utility-scale installation, a 30¢/W solar panel is 30% of system costs. That same panel in a $3/W residential install is 10% of system costs. Thus the 30% Section 201 tariff, with its 9¢/W tax, increases the cost of a utility scale project by 9%, but a residential system only 3%. Same amount of money – different effect.

That utility-scale solar panels weren’t being manufactured in the United States was brought up during the original hearings when the Section 201 tariff was being debated. This argument did not seem to sway trade officials.

More: Republicans Request Utility-Scale Solar Panel Tariff Exemption

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