President Donald Trump’s tariffs on solar panel imports to the U.S. are expected to add roughly 10% to the cost of a utility-scale solar farm in the U.S. and 3% to rooftop units bought for homes according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The tariffs are projected to cut U.S. installations by 11% over the next five years, but the decision is unlikely to reshape the economics of the photovoltaic business on the global stage or threaten China’s leadership of the industry. While Bell Labs in the U.S. invented the modern photovoltaic cell in the 1950s, the industry flourished elsewhere while the United States energy policy focused on cheap oil and gas. China’s government started supporting solar manufacturers in the middle of the last decade with cheap loans from state-controlled institutions and has become by far the largest market for solar panels. Experts do not expect the tariffs to benefit U.S. manufacturers in part because the tariffs only last four years and are unlikely to attract any manufacturing investment.
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