What’s happening with U.S. solar after four months of panel tariffs

Here we are, four months after 30% panel tariffs were placed on imported crystalline silicon solar panels. Who are the winners, and who are the losers?

Utility-scale contractors are hurting more than those in the residential or C&I markets because their work is more price-sensitive. Cypress Creek Renewables recently said it has canceled 1.5 GW of projects because the tariffs have made them uneconomical. That’s 20% of its project pipeline, and a significant number of contracting jobs.

Although China-based JinkoSolar has started plans on a 400-MW panel assembly plant in Florida and South Korea-headquartered Hanwha Q CELLS recently said it is setting up a 1.6-GW module plant in Georgia, those projects aren’t contributing to a surge in American manufacturing today, right now.

“We’ve seen announcements, but it’s unclear to what extent capacity actually will grow,” said Dan Whitten, vice president of communications for SEIA, of manufacturing expansions. “We do know that any new manufacturing won’t begin to fill our nation’s demand for solar panels, so the increased costs of projects are real and unfortunate.”

“Ironically for a U.S. company, it’s been quite disruptive for us,” said CEO Suvi Sharma Solaria, U.S. company manufactures the majority of its panels in South Korea. “We’re writing checks to the U.S. government instead of investing in R&D. We have an aggressive technology and product roadmap. To meet that, we have had significant growth plans in R&D expenditure. Paying the tariffs has reduced money available for that. This is an unintended consequence of the tariffs. U.S. companies reducing R&D makes us less competitive in the long-term.”

So here’s a tally, four months into the tariffs:

Losers: utility-scale installers, module R&D

Neutral parties: residential installers.

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