May 20, 2018

SMA Solar sees USA duties making only small dent in market

28 January 2018, 01:58 | Kenneth Drake

Make this factory a giga Mr. Trump

Make this factory a giga Mr. Trump

Markey added that he plans to fight back against the Trump administration's tariff and ensure the solar industry has the support needed to continue creating jobs in MA and across the country. Deeply underpriced by a string of Chinese competitors, the Tempe, Ariz., maker of solar panels laid off hundreds of workers, sold equipment, and shut down its factory on the outskirts of Toledo, its only one in the USA, as it prepared to gut and remodel the place. The decline in solar panel prices has served the residential consumer well, reduced fossil fuel consumption and resulted in a favorable contribution to job growth in the United States. The secret: supersize panels made with cadmium telluride, an energy-absorbing metal compound that First Solar engineers figured out how to spray on glass sheets in a thin film. This is what First Solar has available to capitalize on.

The trade law provision under which the Trump administration acted in imposing solar panel tariffs requires the president to make the final call.

The US government argued that its domestic manufacturers could not compete with what it said were artificially lower-priced Asian solar panels. This tariff will not interrupt our ability to use our strong market position to obtain the best components in a cost-effective manner and continue to offer this compelling value proposition to our customers. The industry was expanding and now many companies are looking to cut back. It locked in a benefit for years to come.

A rooftop is covered with solar panels past year at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Contracting sales through 2022 or 2023 could ensure the company remains profitable well into the next decade. The windfall of 2017 was used to lock up long-term supply agreements and build new capacity, and now that we know tariffs are hitting competitors, the company can book a few more years out and guarantee strong profitability through the end of tariffs in 2021 and maybe beyond.

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