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Trump’s Steel Tariffs Affect Solar Pricing

Trump’s tariffs on steel aren’t only adversely affecting the livelihoods of American manufacturers and the food you eat, but will take a toll on the nuts and bolts of the clean energy industry as well — literally.

Solar racking



Section 232 proclamation, which Trump signed into existence last month, places a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum. The proclamation is expected to have a direct impact on renewable component costs, increasing the price of everything from the nuts and bolts hardware, to the racking and solar panel frames used to mount PV panels, to the general electrical products such as wiring and transformers.


White House meeting on steel and aluminum tariffs

US President Donald Trump signs Section 232 Proclamations on Steel and Aluminum Imports in the Oval Office of the White House on March 8, 2018, in Washington, DC.
Trump on Thursday declared the American steel and aluminum industries had been “ravaged by aggressive foreign trade practices” as he signed off on contentious trade tariffs. “It’s really an assault on our country,” he continued. “I’ve been talking about this a long time, a lot longer than my political career.” / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN


While manufacturers and installers are expected to bear the brunt of the tariffs, the costs will trickle down to customers installing residential solar as well. Solar Energy Industries Association (SEI) estimates that the steel and aluminum tariffs could add 2 cents per watt to both utility scale and residential solar projects.


The increase comes at a time when there is already significant pressure on the solar industry to stay above water in the wake of 30 percent tariffs on imported solar cells and modules earlier this year.


“Steel and aluminum tariffs would be immediately impactful to the U.S. solar market,” Scott Moskowitz, solar analyst at GTM Research said. “Most mounting structures vendors source steel and aluminum from numerous locations, both in and outside of the United States. Tariffs would likely make the cost of importing these materials prohibitive, while increasing the price of U.S.-made steel, which has already risen due to the threat of tariffs.”


America is the world’s largest steel importer, buying about 35 million tons in 2017.


While American steel mills hail the tariffs as a positive step towards bringing the fabrication of raw materials back to domestic shores, manufacturers that need steel to create their products are apprehensive about what the diminished metal supply will mean for business. According to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic analysis, the U.S. steel industry employed approximately 147,000 people in 2015 while manufacturers and construction industry needing steel employed 12.8 million.


Among those numbers are jobs supported by the solar industry. As it becomes more difficult to retain employees over the next few years amist a whirlwind of destabilizing tariffs and smaller profit margins it appears there might be dark days ahead in the near future of installing affordable home solar.


Contact or call (888) 338-0183 to learn how you can install home solar before prices go up.

Author: Harold Tan

I believe clean, renewable energy is key to the evolution of society as a whole. Solar powers our planet, why not harness it to power humanity? Let's power our homes, our work, and our vehicles with solar energy. It begins with raising awareness and encouraging those around us to go green.

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