07/17/2018

The roiled solar power market shows how Trump’s tariffs can disrupt an industry

Prices on solar panels did rise last summer as the Trump administration publicly considered the tariffs, mostly on imports from China and other Asian countries. That caused U.S. companies to scramble to purchase as many foreign panels as they could to beat the looming duties.

The higher prices led two U.S. manufacturers to say they’d boost production. At least three foreign manufacturers have made plans to open American factories.

But then, on May 31, China surprisingly slashed its solar subsidies and incentives. The sudden reduction in demand led to a global oversupply of solar panels that further fueled the price drop that began after the tariffs took effect in February.

The upshot: Prices in the United States now are back where they were last summer and worldwide prices could tumble as much as 35% this year, analysts say.

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