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How Trump could undermine the U.S. solar boom

The International Trade Commission will report on September 22 whether it finds that imported cells and panels have caused “serious injury” to Suniva and SolarWorld.

If it does, the independent, bipartisan U.S. agency will hold a second hearing to explore ways to respond. Regardless of what remedies the commission recommends, the White House would get broad powers to increase the cost of imported solar cells and panels to at least theoretically protect Suniva.

Jeopardizing jobs

Imposing duties on imported solar equipment will not help the U.S. industry as a whole. Like most experts, we believe that the remedy sought in this case will make solar power more expensive for businesses and consumers, which will reduce its competitiveness against other sources of energy.

Imposing new import duties also ignores the fact that the U.S. solar industry employs an estimated 260,000 people in installation, manufacturing, sales and other related activities, according to the Solar Foundation, but only a small fraction of these workers are involved in cell production.

Protecting certain manufacturers would thus come at the costs of harming other parts of the industry. The Solar Energy Industries Association, which opposes Suniva’s petition, estimates that 88,000 jobs may be at risk. Steep duties could thus undermine the contribution solar power makes to the U.S. economy

Solar globalization

Along with ignoring the effects on jobs across the entire industry, the petition misses the bigger picture. Cell and panel manufacturing composes a small part of a much larger industry that takes advantage of the global manufacturing base.

Source: Salon: in-depth news, politics, business, technology & culture > Politics

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