Go Solar While You Still Can: Trade Dispute Casts a Shadow on The Industry’s Bright Future

Go Solar While You Still Can: Trade Dispute Casts a Shadow on The Industry’s Bright Future

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Business Tactics Dimming Solar Prospects At Home and Abroad

Go solar while you still can: 2017 may see the end of solar’s rapid growth period – at least, for the moment. Recent trade disputes between Suniva and overseas solar manufacturers are set to spark a significant increase in the price of solar panels before the year is out, which could spell doom for the already-struggling American solar industry. This dispute comes hot on the heals of SolarWorld’s insolvency in Germany – the company currently survives only in its Portland, Oregon-based offices (with manufacturing in nearby Hillsboro, Oregon).

In 2011, SolarWorld was right there alongside Suniva – alleging that Chinese manufacturers used unfair practices through government subsidies to finance the manufacture of solar products at a much cheaper cost than American competitors could manage – in some cases allowing those manufacturers to sell their product for lower prices than were even required to build them. Essentially, the case alleged that Chinese manufacturers were undercutting their overseas counterparts illegally. The American manufacturers (six in all, including Suniva and SolarWorld) won that case, and now 2017 sees a new battle in the ongoing trade war.

Suniva has requested that the International Trade Commission look into the impact that imported solar cells and modules (and their lower pricing) has on domestic solar manufacturers – alleging that the competition has dissuaded the development of American solar products in favor of cheaper, less regulated foreign products. At Suniva’s urging, the ITC is taking a thorough look at the case – but if they decide to act on the company’s proposed tariffs and pricing increases, industry experts are worried it could put solar power in a downward slump for the foreseeable future.

The Price of Trade War

With the proposed price increases, solar power would reportedly be set back to pre-2012 levels in terms of pricing for equipment and 2015 levels for installation – a nearly 40% increase, which would be disastrous for many solar projects – including California’s recently-announced renewable energy initiative. Some sources suggest even greater increases – predicting solar cells and modules could rise nearly 70% in costs!

Suniva tariff price increase predictions

Industry experts estimate, should Suniva’s proposed tariffs and price increases be approved, 47 Gigawatts (GW) of planned photovoltaic projects currently in the works could be canceled – to give some indication of how much 47GW is, that’s enough power to keep the lights on for over 4,000 American homes for an entire year. And that’s just the basic wattage of the proposed systems – they would provide continuous power for residential and industrial projects for years to come if installed.

Buy Solar While it’s Still Affordable!

The only good news in this potential trade deal is that you, the DIY customer, will be largely unaffected. Low prices are a market expectation that customers have come to know and love, so most retailers are locked in. The trade war and its looming price increases largely effect industrial and municipal solar projects, which while bad for the country as a whole, have little effect on retail. Utility projects will be worst hit, and many planned projects may well be abandoned, so if you’re a residential customer whose on-the-grid power is currently or will in the future be provided by solar – now might be the time to look into a DIY system. Save yourself money and spare the politics by switching to a grid-tied or off-grid solar system to cut costs and avoid the hassle that comes with being a utility company customer. But act fast, as this trade war shows, the market can change on a dime, and you may not have long before prices skyrocket! Many manufacturers who sell to utility projects also provide solar installation for residential customers, so they may raise prices there to compensate for the difference, so don’t wait.

 

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2 Replies to “Go Solar While You Still Can: Trade Dispute Casts a Shadow on The Industry’s Bright Future”

  1. Hi. I designed a hybrid system with a local, reputable electrician / installer, but lost track of him. We are now ready to go forward and are wondering how we can insure a ‘code’ install if we go through you. I am not stupid (i designed the circuit boards for the saws that cut the moon rocks), but I do have respect for the process and laws. The design was to have 2 clusters going to large inverters located in the garage very close to the external breaker box. That would give us the option of disconnecting from the grid in an emergency. Phase 2 would involve batteries, etc. Will the new Tesla Tiles be able directly replace roof tiles on an existing home, or are thy intended for new building? Our roof is Spansh Style concrete tile. I would love to have a little bigger gap between the roof tile and the solar panels to allow more air to circulate. Is that possible? How do i find a careful, intelligent, roofer to remove the tiles, place the frames, and re-install? Thank you for your help.

    1. Hey Darick, great question. Your best bet is to give our solar techs a ring with your question: 1-800-472-1142. They can address the specifics of your query and point you in the right direction.

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