Trump slaps 30% tariff on imported solar-cells

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On the one hand, this seems great. Solar energy is huge, and growing fast. Why not encourage more companies to set up shop in the US to take advantage of this burgeoning market that’s being consistently undercut by the Chinese.

Then it’s completely sabotaged by the tariffs that will eventually end. Solar manufacture requires a lot of specialized equipment, materials, and training. This leaves zero incentive to move solar cell manufacturing stateside. By the time a company would have the manufacturing infrastructure up and running, the tariffs will expire with nothing gained.

This is nothing more than a short sighted ploy to get more money for his pals in Big Oil.

ETA: Re-typed on my computer to be clearer with my points. Message has not changed. :slight_smile:


I have to agree here. I think the tariffs are legally the right move but it’s not going to fix the disparity between the US and China on this. If we’re going to do anything I would say we either subsidize solar makers here or take some other measures since the tariffs on steel didn’t affect much change for the US steel industry by comparison.


While also making a typically empty gesture of “America First” protectionism to satisfy his Know-Nothing base.

[ETA: additionally it gives yet more false hope to the coal miners whose jobs he promised to save]


Maybe move some of those subsidies used to fund Big Energy to encourage production of renewables?

It’s ridiculous – solar and wind energy are already at cost parity, or cheaper than fossil fuel based energy sources. Yet it’s fossil fuels that get the lion’s share of subsidies and tax breaks.



Yeah back home that’s what Sam Brownback did despite his Koch overlords wetting the bed over it. Ultimately, they couldn’t get any of the Kansas GOP to say no when the farmers and Westar Energy were saying YES. So it was one of the rare moments where the Kochs… lost. Note this wasn’t a good guy vs bad guy situation. It’s basically one capitalist vs another.


I wonder if this won’t backfire spectacularly? We’re going to block all those unAmerican solar panels, giving domestic product room to flourish right when the industry is at the tipping point? And this is supposed to help Big Oil in some way?

I mean, we all know Trump didn’t do this. Trump doesn’t do squat, except tweet. Some white supremacist in the White House thought he was being clever - wouldn’t it be choice if they forgot to consult with Big Oil first?

The thing is the vast majority of solar energy jobs in the United States are in installation rather than manufacture. The tariff hurts the former industry in order to benefit the latter, so overall we’ll likely see a decline in both the number of American jobs and the number of Americans buying solar panels.


If only Solyndra could have hung on.


I had the impression that there was an alarming problem due to many of the North American sources for the rare metals needed in solar cell manufacture being owned by Chinese companies.

Anyway, wouldn’t this be another move by a Trump appointee rather than Trump himself?


I had the impression that one of the main reasons the Chinese control the majority of rare metals used in the solar and electronics industries was simply that they have less compunction about trashing their own country’s environment to obtain them.


“Hours after the Trump administration announced its first major tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels, (Canadian) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a global audience that his country had just reached a historic trade deal with 10 Asia-Pacific countries. The symbolism from Canada was clear: When it comes to trade, the rest of the world is ready to move forward without President Trump.” (Spelling correction by me. What’s up WaPo?)

trump is going to loose this trade game and we are going to be paying the price.


I believe I heard on NPR this morning that most solar jobs in the U.S. are for installation rather than manufacturing making this a job killer.


The Solar Energy Industries Association, which represents installation companies, says billions of dollars of solar investment will be delayed or canceled and likely lead to the loss of 23,000 American jobs in the next year.

Granted they might not be the most objective source of stats but that projected loss is about the same as the TOTAL number of Americans employed in solar manufacturing so we’d have to see the manufacturing sector double in the next year just to break even.


Tariffs on clean energy products is the wrong move and these are so short that they won’t provide any advantage incentive long enough to offset development. This isn’t just about economics, it is about the future of the planet.

Incentives for US businesses and individuals to invest in and use domestic clean energy products is the right way to go. Incentives for US businesses to develop clean energy products is the right way to go. Clean Energy product agreements and treaties and consortiums with other countries is the right way to go.


Not to mention energy independence. Every American home and business that switches to solar energy reduces the demand for imported oil. Even the crazed right-wing nationalists should be in support of that.


It’s more complicated than it looks on the surface.

The USA had a vital, growing, innovative solar panel production sector, that was destroyed by the Chinese government massively funding the development of solar panel production in China, making it possible for Chinese vendors to turn a profit by selling under actual production cost in the USA.

But wait, the Chinese did that because the USA was playing games with the global petroleum market to shut their burgeoning middle class away from modern fuel sources, and because Chinese cities have horrible air pollution.

But wait, the flood of insanely cheap Chinese panels into the USA helped the US upper middle class afford solar installations, leading to job growth for people with and without college degrees all across the entire nation, plus bonus less air pollution in the US.

But wait, the majority of solar jobs are in installation, the factories that make the panels are mostly staffed by robots (built in US ally Japan, I think).

And that’s just the first layer or so… it’s complicated!


Not all capitalist activity is evil, and at minimum some is less evil than others. A fight between a solar power company and the Koch brothers is may not have a “good guy,” but it has exactly one clear villain.


By “we”, I assume you don’t mean us Canadians :slight_smile: