SOLAR PANEL FORECAST: NO SO SUNNY

 Am I Next? Solar Panels. Trade War. Tariffs. Chinese Currency Manipulation.

How many people remember President Obama’s high hopes for solar panel manufacturer Solyndra which was forced into Chapter-11 bankruptcy despite being the recipient of a $535 million U.S. Energy Department loan guarantee. The problem according to company officials, was cheaper solar panels produced by Chinese vendors who were alleged to benefit from price-fixing and currency manipulation. Moreover, a precipitous drop in the raw materials cost of competing solar panels rendered Solyndra’s technology incapable of competing in the world markets. The company laid off 1100 employees and mired in investigations never re-opened its doors.  

Now we have another solar panel manufacturer, Suniva, who has filed for bankruptcy protection and is asking the Trump Administration to impose a substantial tariff on foreign-made solar panels that are cheaper and now dominate the world markets. 

According to published reports, the uncertainties in the solar panel marketplace has forced companies to suspend project planning for new installation until the situation is clarified. The uncertainty is manifesting itself in higher prices, up to 20%, of solar panels. 

President Trump has repeatedly campaigned on the meme that China is ripping-off America using currency manipulation and trade restrictions on American-made goods. Trump justifies the fact that many of his projects were completed with foreign materials to hold down costs to competitive levels.

All that is certain in the current solar marketplace is uncertainty – as most solar projects are not cost effective when measured against traditional energy sources and cannot compete without subsidies and mandated usage. For those wanting a more comprehensive look at the solar panel issue, you may wish to look at an article published by St. Louis Today