On January 22nd, President Donald Trump’s administration announced that it approved a four-year tariff on imported crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) cells and modules. Effective February 7, 2018, the tariff imposes a 30% duty set to decline by 5% each following year. The first 2.5 gigawatts of CSPV products imported in each year will be exempt from the tariff.
The decision followed the U.S. International Trade Commission’s (ITC) unanimous determination that solar cell and module imports are inflicting “serious injury” on domestic manufacturers. Although the Commissioners recommended a variety of tariff rate structures, they agreed upon an increase in duties with an allowance for a limited quantity of imported cells in their proposal to the Trump administration.
The initial Year 1 tariff is expected to increase install costs by 10-15 cents per watt, which Greentech Media estimates could result in approximately a 10 percent reduction in U.S. installed solar capacity. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), of the 260,000 Americans employed in the solar industry, only 2,000 are manufacturing solar cells and modules. SEIA reports that the tariff could cause the loss of approximately 23,000 American jobs in 2018 alone.