Sloar panel tariffs

 T.J Rodgers in the Wall Street Journal is classic: 

Solar panels are key to the transition to carbon-free energy. Since the Earth will be unlivable due to the climate catastrophe if we don't move now, at least according to the Administration, you would think they would be doing everything to encourage solar panel installation. Since mother Gaia does not care where panels are produced, you would think the Administration would not either. If China can produce them cheaper, all the better for the Earth. If China wants to tax its citizens to subsidize our solar panels better still. It's the least they could do in return for adding a new coal-fired power plant about once a week. You would be wrong. Our policy is 

 a punitive 2012 tariff levied by the U.S. Commerce Department.

That raises the price substantially: 

Our politicians disingenuously campaign for conversion to solar energy, but their propensity for top-down economic controls is forcing American homeowners to pay $2.65 per watt on average to install a residential solar system today, according to Clean Energy Associates. The equivalent fully installed residential solar costs are $1.50 in Europe, $1.25 in Australia and $1 in India—because these places practice, and get the benefits of, free-market capitalism in their solar markets.

Oh, those pesky free-market capitalists in Europe, Australia and India. 

Don't we need great American Manufacturing Jobs, at any cost? 

Clean Energy Associates reports that for every $0.35 per watt the American consumer paid in 2021 for Chinese solar panels, the U.S. solar industry collected another $2.30 per watt to mount them on houses, convert their erratic DC current to grid-legal AC current, and hook them up via the “internet of things” to the sophisticated Network Operation Centers that monitor the performance of millions of American solar systems.

The U.S. residential solar industry thus took in 87% of American residential solar revenue in 2021 by creating the value-added solar technology and service jobs that replaced minimum-wage factory solar jobs. This favorable trend survived Washington’s creation of 25% to 250% tariffs on Chinese solar panels in 2012, the year heavily subsidized solar darling, Solyndra, went bankrupt after installing its solar collectors on the Obama White House.

Don't forget "jobs" should now be off the table as a political rallying cry. We have a labor shortage. 

Tariffs hurt even in advance

the mere threat of new retroactive 50% to 250% tariffs has already caused several of the Chinese giants—Longi, Trina and Jinko—to stop shipping to the U.S. market, shutting down or delaying 83% of U.S. utility solar deployments being worked on by Austin’s FTC Solar, according to CEO Sean Hunkler. We expect no relief for the rest of the year given the Commerce Department’s yearlong decision-making process. 

Some of my readers dispute solar panels, noting the absurd cost to install them on residential rooftops, intermittency, the amounts of coal used to melt the glass, environmental consequences of mines, and the poverty of Chinese workers. They doubt the government should be subsidizing solar panels. But that's not the issue here. It surely makes no sense to treat solar panels as an industry to be squelched about as badly as domestic fossil fuels! 

By the way, the federal government pays a tax credit of 26% of the price of a new solar system installed by U.S. residential customers.

Tariffs to make things more expensive, and subsidies to help people pay the higher price. Only in America!  

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