|Title||US solar industry is clouded by uncertainty|
|Date||2018-03-12 PM 2:34:55||Hit||176|
The US solar industry is losing its shine. Although solar power is seen as a key way to avoid the use of climate-changing fossil fuels, US solar companies are cutting investments and laying off workers. An industry employing more than 230,000 people and with an estimated worth of $28 billion is now warning of trouble ahead.
More than 10,000 jobs in solar were lost in 2017, says a report by the Solar Foundation, a non-profit research firm.
The clouds spreading across the US solar sector are in part due to a slowdown in sales in so-called mature markets in California and the US Northeast, both areas of double digit solar growth in recent years.
However, industry analysts say the main reason for the present travails in the solar sector is the announcement earlier this year by President Donald Trump of a 30 per cent tariff on imported solar panels.
Help at home
The aim, says Trump, is to support domestic manufacturers and stop the mass import of solar panels, mainly made in Southeast Asia, South Korea and China. At present, about 90 per cent of solar panels installed in the US are imported.
“We’ll be making solar products now much more so in the US”, said Trump, announcing the imposition of tariffs in January.
“Our companies have been decimated and those companies are going to come back strong … a lot of workers, a lot of jobs.”
The overwhelming majority of people involved in the US solar sector are involved with installation and maintenance; a large number of firms also manufacture subsidiary products, such as racks for mounting the panels.
While some US-based manufacturers of solar panels—there are now very few of them—have welcomed news of the tariffs, most in the industry say the move is likely to drive up costs in what is a highly competitive energy sector.
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