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Import tariffs, tax reform cast shadow over solar energy hopes

When concerns over the fast depletion of conventional energy sources first emerged a few decades ago, it was widely perceived as a possibility that is eons away. And, one of the solutions suggested for the problem was a gradual shift to clean and renewable energy sources.

Meanwhile, the quest for energy security gathered fresh vigor even as protectionist energy policies of leading economies brought in fundamental changes to geopolitical equations.

The question is to what extent would solar and wind energy sources satisfy the needs of today’s energy-guzzling nations. For example, non-conventional sources account for just above 10% of America’s total energy consumption, and below 15% of the locally produced electricity.

Picture Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Though it may sound strange, one of the industries that stand to bear the brunt of President Trump’s controversial decision to impose higher tariffs on metal imports is the solar power sector. It is to be noted that the trade restrictions on steel and aluminum were strongly condemned by all sections of the energy industry.

Higher equipment costs, combined with headwinds from the federal tax reform, are expected to put a spoke in the wheel of solar power projects.

A recent survey predicts a bleak future for the US solar energy industry, which stands third in the renewable energy space after hydroelectric power and wind power.

One of the industries that stand to bear the brunt of the tariffs imposed on metal imports is the solar power sector

While solar installations are forecast to record flat growth in the current fiscal year, overall growth is estimated to be much lower in the next four years. Citing the impressive growth in solar power installations last year, the study report claims the sector would have maintained its growth momentum had it not been for the recent headwinds.

Meanwhile, experts term the slump in solar installations as natural, considering the seasonal nature of the strong growth witnessed in the past two years, which again was the result of federal tax credits.

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