How Trump administration’s decision to reverse import tariff exemptions on bifacial solar panels has impacted the renewable industry globally.

The energy resource is invaluable and is becoming increasingly popular in many regions around the world.

Industry News
20th November 2019

As one of the cleanest sources of power and most efficient methods of reducing climate change, solar panels are a global god send. With unlimited renewability, the energy resource is invaluable and is becoming increasingly popular in many regions around the world.

Statistics into global energy resources have shown that renewable consumption has more than doubled in the past 10 years. Back in 2009, the total worldwide renewable energy output was recorded at 1,135,599 MW. Fast forward 9 years and that number that has almost doubled, with last year’s figures showing a renewable production of 2,356,346 MW globally.

The US energy market has been a large contributor to the success of renewables, having one of the largest installed solar PV and wind energy capacities – second only to that contributed by China. The country’s renewable energy efforts have shown a steady growth year on year, celebrating a milestone of providing 23% of America’s total electricity generation in April 2019, surpassing coal’s 20%. This is the first time that coal has been surpassed by a non-polluting energy source in the country and, while President Trump has repeatedly promised American coalminers that he will revive the coal industry, around 50 coal-fired power plants have said to have been closed in the past 2 years.

What are bifacial solar panels?

Bifacial solar modules are an advanced development on the traditional solar panel, whereby solar power can be produced from both sides. The front panel still takes in the majority of the sunlight, but the flipside is able to generate anything between 5-30% of the energy that is absorbed by the front. The panels have been described as an important step up from the traditional model because their durability is increased by having two UV resistant sides; therefore increasing the warranty, with a standard guarantee of 30 years. Additionally, the Balance-of-System costs (including manual labour, hardware and wiring) are reduced with bifacial models because of the increased power generation capabilities.

What are the benefits of having import tariffs on bifacial solar panels?

As of October 28th, 2019 a motion was set in place to subject bifacial solar panels to a 25% import tariff, in an effort to boost the US economy. The previously untaxed product was predominantly sourced from countries internationally, accumulating for 80% of the country’s solar supply. This is due to the reduced financial burden on production leading to lowering costs for imports. However the inclusion of the tariff has reduced this need, subsequently increasing job prospects for US citizens. The motion levels the playing field for businesses internally, providing promising revenue and economic growth for US companies within the industry.

What do America’s economic activities mean for the solar industry on a global scale?

With President Trump’s US coal market revival off to a shaky start and clean energy in the US growing year on year, the world’s largest economy appears to be providing positive opportunities for the renewable industry globally.

However, the implementation of the tariff presents huge loss potential to renewable businesses developing bifacial panels around the world. The previous method of outsourcing the panels at a cut-price created a unique selling point for foreign imports, but the added tax will mean that US manufacturers can source the bifacial panels at the same price from within the country, as they would be able to do externally. It is partly as a result of this that the Solar Energy Association projects that there will be thousands of job losses and a reduced chance of new development plans in the $28 billion dollar global industry.

What does the future hold for the development of bifacial panels?

With the Trump administration tariff still being a fairly new regulation for the market, there is relatively little data on what the impact of this will be at present. While the regulation has the potential to pose a large threat to solar market leaders and developer recruitment alike across Asia in particular, the US now aligns itself as a strong competitor to become the global market leader for renewables; providing an excellent opportunity for businesses to expand into the US market and higher recruitment prospects for US developers.


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