The future of the solar industry in the US is unclear since President Trump announced a 30% tariff on foreign solar panel imports. Blake Jones, a co-founder of the solar company Namaste, told KGNU’s Nicole Cheng that the tariffs have created a lot of uncertainty in the solar industry. Jones said the market actually reacted to the tariffs when they were first mentioned by Trump several months ago.
“The market reacted to that a long time ago in a couple of different ways. One is that solar panel manufacturers started raising their prices knowing that the tariffs were coming down the pike and also because a lot of companies like Namaste Solar wanted to make advance orders of solar panels and fill their warehouses or buy panels for projects that they had in 2018 before any tariff might take place. ”
Trump said the tariffs will ultimately protect American workers, but Jones says that the opposite is likely to happen and we are likely to have a net loss of jobs.
“Out of the 260,000 plus jobs, a very small percentage, maybe 10% are in manufacturing. Part of the reason is solar panel manufacturing is highly automated. But where the jobs are, are in everything downstream of manufacturing, it’s in doing what Namaste Solar does, designing, installing, and servicing solar projects.”
Jones says that the tariffs are only in place for four years, and with the economics of solar panel manufacturing making it cheaper to make them abroad, it is highly unlikely that any new jobs will be created in the US in solar panel manufacturing.