Shedding Light on Trump’s New 30% Solar Tariff


With the recent announcement of the tariff on imported solar cells and modules, solar energy has been in the news a lot lately. But what does it really mean and how will it impact you and your projects?

Thankfully, you will barely notice the impact of this tariff on the kinds of projects we do with you. As incredible forward-thinking clients, you know that solar decreases owner-paid utility costs, increases property value, produces clean greenhouse gas-free energy on site, and can add resiliency to the property when paired with storage.

Here are some specific reasons why we’re not too worried about the tariff:

  • Solar panels are only one component of a solar project.  Even if the full effect of the tariff gets incorporated into our pricing, it would not substantially impact the system’s long-term economic and environmental benefits.  The 30% tariff is only on the solar modules and cells, so it would not increase the total price of a project by anything close to 30%!
  • A number of manufacturers are petitioning for exclusion from the tariff, including our primary panel supplier, SunPower.  Given that SunPower truly does have a unique cell and module design that is higher efficiency than any other (and which already sells at a premium price),  they have a good case for exemption. This article from Greentech Media explains why. 
  • Imported solar panel manufacturers may eat some of the cost of the tariff.  We’ve already spoken to manufacturers who have agreed to do so.

How Will This Tariff Impact You?

If you already have solar panels on your building, this will have no impact.

If we are currently installing panels on your building and the panels have already been ordered, your Bright Power account manager will be reaching out to discuss the specific plan for your project.

If we are under contract to install a solar project for you this year, and we haven’t yet ordered the panels, your Bright Power account manager will reach out to share all your options, including potentially expediting the process.

If we aren’t yet in contract, we will not be able to order the panels before February 7, 2018, the date the tariff goes into effect. We still don’t know the true extent of the impact of this tariff and expect to learn more over the next month.  We do know that the 30% tariff does not mean a 30% higher cost for your project.  At worst, the tariff will end up causing a small price increase that we will do everything we can to minimize.

How We See It

From where we are sitting, this tariff will not aid in the immediate increase in U.S. based manufacturing as it intends. Unfortunately, the media attention is already causing confusion and will slow down the growth of the industry and proliferation of solar. That being said, we fully support the creation of American manufacturing jobs.  Prior to their bankruptcy, we used SolarWorld, one of the petitioners in the original trade case, panels. We look forward to the creation of American-made solar cells and modules and will look for ways to include those products when scoping for projects.

Tony Clifford, chief development officer at Standard Solar, may have said it best“The solar industry is nothing if not resilient, and I’m confident the innovative, tough and resourceful members of the industry will find workarounds to the latest obstacle placed in solar’s path. The Solar Century is here, and not even unfair tariffs will stand in its way.”