Media Coverage: Morten Lund on Effect on Solar Industry of New Tariffs

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"The industry has shown a tremendous ability to find ways to shave pennies here and there. Between the [tariff] reduction and the large exemption, there's a significant opportunity to just ignore it."

—Morten Lund in Law360 article.

Energy attorney Morten Lund was quoted in Greentech Media in an article titled “Forecast Shows How Trump Tariffs Will Hurt Solar Growth, State by State,” in Law360 in an article titled “Trump Tariffs Inflict Short-Term Pain On Solar Development,” and in Solar Industry in an article titled “President Trump Approves 30% Solar Tariffs.” The articles discuss possible effects on the solar industry from the recent determination by the Trump administration on the Section 201 trade case launched last year by Suniva and SolarWorld Americas.

On January 22, the president approved the application of import tariffs on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules, starting at 30 percent and then decreasing by five percent each of the next four years, the length of time afforded under a Section 201 case. The first 2.5 GW of imported solar cells is exempted from the tariff each year.

The tariff is lower than the 50 percent that was sought by petitioners Suniva and SolarWorld, while the exemption is higher than the recommendation made by the U.S. International Trade Commission, and solar project experts say that projects that were financially sound to begin with will still be built, although according to Lund, building new manufacturing plants in the U.S. to take advantage of the tariffs is less appealing due to the manner in which the tariffs are reduced.

However, the finalization of the tariffs may signal the restart of projects that developers had put on hold due to the uncertainty over the level of tariffs the president would impose. "That is an absolute cold towel on everything," Lund said. "You can work around almost any tariff, once you know what it is."

The tariffs are predicted to reduce the projected pipeline of new solar construction in the U.S. by 7.6 gigawatts over the next five years, with California seeing the biggest reduction—an expected 1,079-megawatt decline in new solar capacity between 2018 and 2022—which nevertheless hurts the state less than it might have due to the state’s market size and strong renewable portfolio standards.

“There’s no meaningful impact in California,” said Lund. “They could put a 1,000 percent tariff on solar, and we would still be doing solar in California. The political will for solar here is incredibly strong and powerful.”

New and emerging state solar markets such as those in Texas, Florida and South Carolina are impacted most by the tariffs.

Forecast Shows How Trump Tariffs Will Hurt Solar Growth, State by State,” was published February 1, 2018.

Trump Tariffs Inflict Short-Term Pain On Solar Development,” was published January 23, 2018. (Subscription required.)

President Trump Approves 30% Solar Tariffs,” was published January 22, 2018, and updated January 23, 2018.

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