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US utility-scale solar installs to fall by half at USD 40/W tariff

Annual installations in US. Taken from GTM Research report.

October 17 (Renewables Now) - Introducing solar cell import tariffs in the US of between USD 0.10 (EUR 0.085) and USD 0.40 per watt could lead to a drop in utility-scale installations of between 10.1% and 57.3% over the 2018-2022 period.

The net impact for all segments of the solar market will be of between 9% and 48% in the period under review, according to calculations by GTM Research. It explains that utility-scale projects are the most vulnerable to any price increases as two-thirds of the project pipeline is driven by “solar’s razor-thin economic competitiveness with other generation sources”.

The company’s base forecast for 2017 was for demand of nearly 11 GW, across all solar market segments, and surpassing 16 GW by 2022. This excludes any measures taken in response to the Section 201 solar trade case, initiated by Suniva Inc and later joined by SolarWorld Americas. They have proposed tariffs, import quotas and minimum solar product prices as measures to protect the US solar industry from the surge of foreign imports.

GTM observes that for now the effect of the uncertainty created by the new trade case is that US solar module prices are increasing and the cost of solar has gone up “for the first time in ages”.

The residential solar market will be the least impacted by any protective measures taken by the US government so the change is negligible there. However, as the table below shows, commercial and utility-scale solar have felt the effect of preparation.

US EPC turnkey pricing forecast in USD/Wdc H1 2017 Original H2 2017 Updated H2 2017
Commercial 1.53 1.47 1.55
Utility-scale (fixed-tilt) 0.96 0.94 1.02
Utility-scale (single-axis tracking) 1.09 1.06 1.13

These projections come from GTM's report "US Solar Outlook Under Section 201: Supply and Demand Impacts of Tariffs at USD 0.10/W Increments".

The ITC is to present its injury determination and remedy recommendations to President Donald Trump by November 13, 2017. Trump will then decide whether to impose tariffs or other remedies, as well as their form, amount and duration.

(USD 1 = EUR 0.85)

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Browse all articles from Tsvetomira Tsanova

Tsvet has been following the development of the global renewable energy industry for seven years now. She's got a soft spot for emerging markets.

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