Trump strikes major blow to renewable energy with 30 percent tariff on solar imports

This Monday, President Trump imposed tariffs of 30 percent on imported solar panel products. As The Hill points out, the move was put forth as a bid to protect domestic manufacturers while taking a hard line on China. But experts are saying the new tariffs will deal a major blow to the solar industry, whose products are 80 percent imported.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the tariffs would increase prices and kill 23,000 jobs.

“While tariffs in this case will not create adequate cell or module manufacturing to meet U.S. demand, or keep foreign-owned Suniva and SolarWorld afloat, they will create a crisis in a part of our economy that has been thriving, which will ultimately cost tens of thousands of hard-working, blue-collar Americans their jobs,” SEIA president Abigail Ross Hopper said in a statement.

From The Hill:

The tariffs unveiled Monday apply to all imported solar photovoltaic cells and modules, the main technology on panels that convert solar energy into electricity.

While the action is targeted at imports from China, Trump’s tariffs apply to all imports, since Chinese manufacturers have moved operations to other countries.

Even the right-wing group R Street Institute thought Trump’s move was wrongheaded.

“More good-paying jobs will be jeopardized by today’s decision than could possibly be saved by bailing out the bankrupt companies that petitioned for protection,” R Street’s Clark Packard said according to The Hill. “Today’s decision also will jeopardize the environment by making clean energy sources less affordable.

In a tweet posted this Monday, New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg said the tariffs “will destroy U.S. jobs, raise Americans’ electric bills and hurt our environment. Congress should stand up for American workers and consumers and overturn the administration’s harmful decision.”

The last time the tariffs were enacted was in 2001 for steel imports. They were struck down by the WTO.

Featured image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr