“Strangely enough, while these tariffs are pricey enough to reduce installations, they are probably not significant enough to bolster American manufacturing. That’s because building up the infrastructure necessary to produce abundant solar panels would be time-consuming and expensive. “It takes time to build a value chain that’s that efficient,” O’Sullivan says.
That means the most likely outcome is a destructive chain reaction: Tariffs will cause a shortage of panels. That, in turn, will drive up prices. And those price hikes will reduce consumer demand for solar energy. With little demand, it’s estimated 23,000 solar installers, who just a few days ago had the fastest-growing job in the country, will lose their jobs. “I think on balance, the likely job losses that will come from a slowdown of 10 percent or more in deployment would probably significantly outweigh any gains,” O’Sullivan says.
A steep new tariff on imported solar panels will have a profound effect on the industry.