David Steven Jacoby

Bifacial Solar Panel Modules No Longer Excluded from Section 201 Tariffs

The end of an exemption of bifacial solar panel modules from Section 201, and their consequent taxation under the current wave of US import tariffs, will unfortunately fail to shift production from China to the United States. Instead, it is more likely to lead to overall higher costs of photovoltaics within the U.S. There are few American producers, and only about 20% of installed solar panels are American made. Furthermore, many of the companies that produce these panels domestically are headquartered internationally. Moreover, there is no specific sub-quota of importing panels for particular countries, so it does not have any specific effect on China.

The rising cost resulting from this imposed tariff affects all markets within the American solar industry. Homeowners are now less incentivized to make the effort to proceed with installations. This is significant, given that 1.3 million American households utilize solar for partial or total power supply. Initially, this number was expected to rise to 3.8 million households by 2020, but now the future demand is not so clear. Many schools in southwestern (and often underfunded) states employ solar panels to supplement electricity usage. A quarter of schools in Nevada use solar panels for their electricity demand. Utility-scale plants install tens of thousands of solar panels at each operation, so the rise in the cost of development of these plants skyrockets. Variability in the price of panels would inevitably affect all markets. 

Overall, the tariff will make average Americans less likely to invest in solar power than before.


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