Suniva argues that because of the global nature of the solar trade, the American manufacturing industry needs blanket safeguards from the trade commission that would apply to the crystalline silicon cells and modules manufactured anywhere outside the United States. … But opponents say the case threatens many of the hundreds of thousands of workers whose jobs could be eliminated in an industry slowdown. Those include people who install, finance and oversee the development of large-scale solar projects, as well as manufacturers of support structures for the panels and devices that regulate the flow of electricity from them. According to a report from GTM Research, a consultant firm that tracks the solar industry and provides data and analysis for the industry’s main trade group, the Solar Energy Industries Association, which is aggressively fighting the petition, a finding in Suniva’s favor could reduce expected installations over the next five years by 50 percent.
The effects to the American solar industry could be “devastating,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, the CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, a national organization. The group, which is fighting the case in Washington, D.C., estimates Texas could lose more than 6,000 jobs in the construction, wiring and development segments of the solar industry if the price of solar panels rises. The cheaper imports have fueled growth in Texas. In 2016, the industry added 2,366 workers in the state, a 34 percent bump from the previous year, according to data from the Solar Foundation, a solar advocacy nonprofit. That growth could be just the beginning: The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which runs the state’s electricity grid, projects that solar power could contribute up to 28,100 megawatts to the grid within the next 10 to 15 years, an enormous increase from the roughly 1,000 megawatts currently on the grid. “Solar in Texas is really coming on strong. We have seen tremendous cost reductions over the past several years,” said Charlie Hemmeline, the executive director of the Texas Solar Power Association, a state-based industry group.
GTM Research crunched the numbers based on Suniva’s and SolarWorld’s requested penalties for imported solar equipment ($0.40/watt tariff for cells and a floor price of $0.78/watt on modules) and found that they would cause unprecedented demand destruction. If Suniva’s and SolarWorld’s proposal is approved by the U.S. International Trade Commission and President Trump, there will be a new minimum price on imported crystalline silicon solar modules and a new tariff on imported cells. Put together, the U.S. could miss out on more than 47 gigawatts of solar installations. That’s more than what the U.S. solar market has brought on-line to date.
The US solar industry could lose a third of its workforce, or an estimated 88,000 jobs, if the US Government and the US International Trade Commission rules in favor of Suniva’s request for a tariff and price floor. Simply put, Suniva, a US manufacturer of high-efficiency crystalline silicon photovoltaic solar cells and high-power solar modules, has petitioned the US International Trade Commission (ITC) to place a tariff on all imported solar cells and to set a price floor for nearly every imported panel. The company’s argument is that it cannot compete with foreign rivals — obviously, considering that the company, majority-owned by a Chinese firm, declared bankruptcy back in April.
“Rather than help the industry, the action would kill many thousands of American jobs and put a stop to billions of dollars in private investment,” SEIA President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper said in a news release. “Our estimates show that even in the states where Suniva and its lone supporter, SolarWorld, have operations, if the petition succeeds, there would be many times more jobs lost than expected gains for two struggling companies.”
The U.S. would lose a third of its solar jobs if the Trump administration adopts tariffs under consideration by the U.S. International Trade Commission, according to data released by the Solar Energy Industries Association. Overall, an estimated 88,000 jobs would disappear if American manufacturer Suniva Inc. is successful in its trade case in favor of the new tariffs, SEIA said. … SEIA said that with tariffs, California would see about 15,800 lost jobs, the most of any state. South Carolina could lose 7,000 jobs, or 88 percent of its solar workforce, and Texas could lose 6,300 positions. Oregon could lose 5,800 jobs. Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and New York all could see more than 3,000 eliminated positions. The U.S. solar industry has about 260,000 total workers.