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Hundreds of US solar projects shelved after Trump imposes tariff on imported panels

07 June 2018

A report by Reuters claims that President Donald Trump’s tariff on imported solar panels has led US renewable energy companies to cancel or freeze investments of more than $2.5 billion in large installation projects, along with thousands of jobs. This compares with $1 billion in new spending plans announced by companies building or expanding US solar panel factories.

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According to the report, the Solar Energy Industries Association said developers completed utility-scale installations costing a total of $6.8 billion last year. Those investments were driven by US tax incentives and the falling costs of imported panels, mostly from China, which together made solar power competitive with natural gas and coal.

The US solar industry employs more than 250,000 people - about three times more than the coal industry - with about 40% of those people in installation and 20% in manufacturing, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

GTM Research, a clean energy research firm, recently lowered its 2019 and 2020 utility-scale solar installation forecasts in the United States by 20% and 17% respectively, citing the levies.

The 30% tariff is scheduled to last four years, decreasing by 5% per year during that time. Solar developers say the levy will initially raise the cost of major installations by 10%.

One company alone, Cypress Creek Renewables LLC, was quoted saying it would cancel around 150 projects.

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