What are the implications of the tariffs on Chinese solar components for residential solar?
The U.S. government announced last week that it would continue to impose tariffs that make it more expensive to import solar panels from China.
The Trump administration originally put a 30% tariff in place in 2018, which declined to 15% over four years and was set to expire in 2022. The policy was part of an effort to promote solar component production by U.S. manufacturers. China currently produces between 60 and 80% of the world’s solar components. The Biden administration has decided to renew the tariffs for another four years at about the same 14-15% rate.
In deciding whether to extend the tariffs, analysts say the government had to try to strike a balance between promoting the growth of U.S. solar manufacturing while ensuring components are affordable enough in the short term for U.S. solar capacity to continue growing.
What does this mean for homeowners considering going solar? For now, not much. Since the tariff isn’t changing, there should be no significant impact on prices. The administration did make an exemption in the renewed tariff for bifacial solar panels, but bifacial panels can’t be used in most residential installs because they need open space behind them, making them unsuitable for mounting on a roof. Bifacial panels are typically used in utility-scale solar installations.
Overall, going solar has become much more affordable in recent years. Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration says that from 2010 to 2020, the price of solar panels plunged from $1.96/watt to $0.38/watt.
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