back to article President Trump turns out the lights on solar panel imports into US

US President Donald Trump has signed an order to place a 30 per cent tariff on the import of parts used to build solar panels. The new charges, pitched on Monday by the White House as relief for domestic manufacturers, are instead being slammed by US solar industry groups as an effort to destroy the solar energy market in …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A stopped clock is correct twice daily

    In this case I suppose Twitler is actually doing a good thing.

    That doesn't change the fact that he's a fuckwit.

    1. John Gamble

      Re: A stopped clock is correct twice daily

      If you believe this sort of protectionism helps, it might have worked ten or twelve years ago. Now, when it's too late? All it's doing is hobbling a growing industry.

      This move only makes sense if your goal is to prop up the coal industry.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A stopped clock is correct twice daily

        I'm not sure why the goal has to be to prop up coal.

        Tariffs on government subsidized chinese panels being dumped here could be used to offset tax breaks to domestic panel production. (Much like what I believe Germany has been doing to protect its industrial base.) As if domestic production of PV panels could be spun up in any kind of useful timeframe.

        If you couldn't connect the dots between tariffs offsetting tax breaks on domestic panel production, what do you suppose were the odds that Twitler could have made the connection.

        Next to none is my guess.

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: A stopped clock is correct twice daily

          I'm not sure why the goal has to be to prop up coal.

          No-one else is either, if the US could get back to us and explain that one it would be super.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Tariffs on government subsidized chinese panels being dumped here

          It's got nothing to do with anything being dumped here. We're talking about the USA.

          theregister.CO.UK Motherfucker!!!!

          1. HieronymusBloggs Silver badge

            Re: Tariffs on government subsidized chinese panels being dumped here

            "theregister.CO.UK Motherfucker!!!!"

            Too much coffee?

            1. Chemical Bob Bronze badge

              Re: Tariffs on government subsidized chinese panels being dumped here

              Probably road tar...

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Too much coffee?

              Crappy attempt at a Die Hard reference, actually.

      2. Faux Science Slayer

        "Green Prince of Darkness" at FauxScienceSlayer

        Wind turbines and photovoltaics are unsustainable eco trinkets that never produce a fraction

        of the fossil fuel investment to mine, refine and produce these elitist tricks....

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: A stopped clock is correct twice daily

      It's thinking long term.

      This boosts coal and LNG use.

      So increases global warming

      So makes solar more viable for the rest of us

      Hats off to our selfless cousins for thinking of future generations.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A stopped clock is correct twice daily

        So makes solar more viable for the rest of us

        Except it isn't - you need a grid connection for when the sun don't shine.

        Friends have a massive bank of panels that were calculated to supply enough power for the house and charge a room full of batteries because they are far from any power lines. They have always had to run a diesel generator to get any real work done.

      2. HieronymusBloggs Silver badge

        Re: A stopped clock is correct twice daily

        "This boosts coal and LNG use.

        So increases global warming

        So makes solar more viable for the rest of us"

        I'd expect the increase in smog and cloud cover to have the opposite effect on solar power.

      3. Jonathan Richards 1
        Thumb Up

        Re: A stopped clock is correct twice daily

        OK, I detect the sarcasm, but

        > So makes solar more viable for the rest of us

        is a non sequitur.

        Global warming does not mean more solar energy reaching any particular solar panel. The sun (we trust) will continue to shine next year just as it does today. There could be more clouds generated by warm seas, though, and the warm seas will fuel hurricanes that may rip the panels off roofs and solar farms, and the sea level will continue to rise, and so on. Global warming is not good. For anything. I reckon we can agree on that.

  2. Kev99 Bronze badge

    Hmmm...I wonder how many millions were given to Trump and his minions by the electric generating industry? And the natural gas industry. And the coal industry.

    1. fandom Silver badge

      Hmmmm.... I wonder how many millions were given to Trump and his minions by Tesla?

      Hey! This is great, the 'Hmmmm' does make me sound smart, doesn't it?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      .I wonder how many millions

      were given to Obama and his minions by the electric generating industry? And the natural gas industry.

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge

    I suppose that someone told him that "all the manufacturers have to do is ramp up production of the panels"? Yeah.. easy-peasy.

  4. Big John Silver badge

    Sunshine needed

    Chinese solar companies are engaged in subsidized dumping. A response is warranted and Trump has chosen to respond with tariffs. Strange that neither the words "subsidy" or "dumping" appear anywhere in the article.

    Yes, this should have happened under Obama, but it did not. Good thing we have a president now that actually cares about his oath of office.

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Sunshine needed

      SO protecting the planet by subsidizing panels is bad how?

      Trump just hates the planet, along with all its supporters, and you know it

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sunshine needed

        This has nothing to do with whether subsidizing panels is bad or good.

        He just wants to create a domestic manufacturing and assembly of solar panels instead of importing parts and just assemble domestically or just shifting boxes from china. IMHO he is correct to protect his domestic workforce. Europeans should do the same. Because as of now, profits disappear in the pockets of a small number of greedy western bosses, a lot more Chinese bosses, a little bit to the Chinese workforce and another chunk to the Chinese government (through direct or indirect taxation). Chinese workers then spend that income again on Chinese consumer products as they usually don't buy Western manufactured goods (which are heavily taxed in China).

        In the mean time our manufacturing workforce has sunk into poverty. Some jobs have been recovered with artificially created shitty jobs (mostly dubious servicing and unneeded administrative functions) with the result of massive burn-out and other stress related problems. Which further burden our society with medical costs and pushes people further and further into despair.

        The problem here is that many greedy company-"leaders" need to take responsibility for the mess THEY created! And this is ONE step. Unfortunately this usually has an adverse effect as "leaders" seek ways to circumvent their responsibility instead of investing some of the money they earned back into society. People shouldn't target Trump because he wants to keep jobs locally. They should be happy that someone is at least trying to keep lower income jobs also domestic. Americans could help him too by only buying US-manufactured solar panels (and other consumer products).

        In e.g. South Korea something like shouldn't even raise questions as the Korean government heavily taxes foreign products, heavily promotes (read: subsidises) domestic manufacturing and therefore Koreans buy Korean manufactured products. I doubt that there is much poverty and unemployment in South Korea.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sunshine needed

          "IMHO he is correct to protect his domestic workforce"

          Abstractly, that is is correct.

          However ... slapping a massive tariff on imported parts overnight doesn't achieve this. This firstly destroys the domestic installer market who can no longer install panels at an affordable price, quickly killing off the customer base.

          This quickly destroys the market that the domestic manufacturing market needs to grow enough to achieve economies of scale and profitability.

          Remember it will take time for the domestic manufactiring sector to respond and ramp up production.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sunshine needed

        "SO protecting the planet by subsidizing panels is bad how?"

        Because they dont.

        When will you learn to rtll product marketing from real science?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sunshine needed

      if that was the case the USA should have appealed to the WTC.

      If that was the case, China should take the USA to the WTC and sue for compensation.

    3. Long John Brass Silver badge

      Re: Sunshine needed

      neither the words "subsidy" or "dumping" appear anywhere

      Sorry I don't understand why this is an issue; If the Chinese Govt wants to subsidise panels to the rest of the world how is that a bad thing? Just buy up the cheep Chinese panels and go hog wild installing em everywhere. One of two things happen; Either the Chinese government go broke or they don't; Either way we all get cheep panels.

      Who exactly looses here? US manufacturers of solar panels? Are there a lot of those?

      Still on the bright side; If US sales of imported solar panels drops, the reset of us might get an even bigger discount :)

      1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: Sunshine needed

        @Long John Brass - Chinese subsidizing their solar panel industry does a couple of things. It allows the Chinese to sell below actual manufacturing costs thus undermining a local industry. Thus the victim country has a few choices: slap a tariff on Chinese panels, let the domestic industry whither, or subsidize the domestic industry. The least disruptive is probably a tariff if rebuilding the domestic industry is a priority.

        1. Long John Brass Silver badge

          Re: Sunshine needed

          let the domestic industry whither, or subsidise the domestic industry

          Which is why the global price for solar panels cost/watt were at rock bottom and the glut in the global market for US manufactured solar panels was at epic levels....

          Or just perhaps; As the Chinese manufacturing levels increased, that has driven down the cost/watt to a level where they are actually becoming a viable option for some domestic supply?

      2. Manu T

        Re: Sunshine needed

        "...One of two things happen; Either the Chinese government go broke or they don't..."

        First. Governments don't go broke. People do. Political leaders always have a better lifestyle than the rest of their population. Whether in China or in the US.

        Secondly it's not is simple as that. The Chinese KNOW that greedy westerners buy their cheap subsidised panels so the subsidised money flows back into the government through sales tax, corporate (25%) and personal taxes (45%) and social security rates (48%). Many of these taxes are based on personal or company income and because these Chinese companies have higher revenues they pay more taxes and thus the subsidy turns into profit. As long as they keep exporting in vast quantities the Chinese government earns big bucks from panels installed in the USA and Europe.

        If Trump manage to keep production (not just assembly) local. The US government gets more taxes through local sales tax (which they already have depending on state even with imported panels) but also with higher corporate taxes (as companies have more revenue) and with more people having jobs a higher income of personal income tax (which is the highest tax-rate in the US at almost 40%). Personal income tax in Europe is at +50% in most countries and corporate tax is mostly around (24%) so it's obviously better to keep unemployment as low as possible to generate as much "presonal income tax" as possible as this is a major income of governments.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Sunshine needed

          "The Chinese KNOW that greedy westerners buy their cheap subsidised panels so the subsidised money flows back into the government through sales tax, corporate (25%) and personal taxes (45%) and social security rates (48%). Many of these taxes are based on personal or company income and because these Chinese companies have higher revenues they pay more taxes and thus the subsidy turns into profit."

          All fine except for one little detail: if these panels are being dumped below cost it's gradually draining money out of the system.

        2. Blotto

          Re: Sunshine needed

          @Manu T

          Care to elaborate just where in Europe has personal income tax greater than 50%?

          If the Chinese model of subsidy and tax is so great then why doesn’t the USA just do the same?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sunshine needed

        s/cheep/cheap/g

        s/loose/lose/g

    4. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: we have a president now that actually cares about his oath of office

      You have a president who doesn't understand his oath of office.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: we have a president now that actually cares about his oath of office

        Just an oaf about the office

    5. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Sunshine needed

      president now that actually cares about his oath of office

      If he can remember the words. Doubtless one of his carers will be on hand for the difficult bits..

  5. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Maybe I don't understand how this works

    If China is subsidizing solar cells, wouldn't the proper response be for the US government be to purchase as many as possible? We'd have a nice surplus of cheap solar cells ready for when China ends the subsidy. (Then quietly steal all the trade secrets from China and build them locally.)

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: Maybe I don't understand how this works

      It's because its a false narrative. China don't subsidise PV manufacture, they subsidise PV installations connected to their grid via a Feed In Tariff, just like the rest of the world. This has stimulated their PV panel construction industry to invest in more efficient production.

      Here is an excellent article on the subject; basically US was the world leader in PV panel production, China invested huge amounts to satisfy their own demand (>50% of chinese made panels are not exported) and the US did not.

      Their solution is tariffs, so that everything is more expensive for the consumer, and the inevitable total collapse of US PV exports as the rest of the world ignores them

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe I don't understand how this works

        USG are allowing a few [<3GW] of modules in , before the 30% duty is applied.

        I think, and I may be wrong, that there's an energy revolution coming - based on cheap renewables with the offered December 2017 bid price (eventually not chosen) @KSA <1,8cts/KWh LCOE for a multi megawatt plant north of Riyadh. That is a staggering price = revolution!

        BTW the sovereign US also imposed Tariffs on Washing Machines with the same PV act

        1. Chronos Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Maybe I don't understand how this works

          BTW the sovereign US also imposed Tariffs on Washing Machines with the same PV act

          Arsenoise probably thinks that will stop money laundering through foreign investment...

          I'll get me coat.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maybe I don't understand how this works

      "...wouldn't the proper response be for the US government be to purchase as many as possible..."

      No. Because the US government would increase the revenue of Chinese companies who'd get taxed for corporate tax, and their workers would get income taxed, by the Chinese government thus US tax-money flows into the Chinese treasury. It's better to increase taxation of imported products and spend THAT money into local manufacturing of competing products thus subdising domestic products.

      Then export those cheap US manufactured solar panels back into China....

      "..Then quietly steal all the trade secrets from China and build them locally..."

      I doubt China has many "trade secrets" since they "stole" it all from western countries.

      With "stole" I don't literally mean that they sent spies to actually steal them (though this might have happened in a few occasions in the past). I mean that western companies "gave" the trade secrets to some Chinese manufacturer to let him/her set-up a manufacturing and assembly plant.

      You know that the father o/t solar cell is a Frenchman. So what do the "French", or shall we say... Euro zone competitors, have to "steal"?

      1. Blotto

        Re: Maybe I don't understand how this works

        @ac

        What you do t seem to understand is that if imported parts go up 30% then domestic parts will go up in price too as consumers now have no choice. Domestic manufacturers will be in a race to charge more as the price ceiling is now whatever the imported price is. Buy the import or the domestic with a flag sticker stating designed and made in the USA, if both are the same price people will buy yank. If the yank product is cheaper people will think it’s inferior to the Chinese model.

        The losers will be the workers in the industry and their customers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Maybe I don't understand how this works

          "The losers will be the workers in the industry and their customers."

          And the winners will be all those people whose electricity prices are massively inflated by heavily subsidised 'renewable energy' and massively taxed fossil fuel.

          Remember: Renewable energy is a massively expensive solution that doesn't work to a problem that doesn't exist.

          Don't confuse reality with top class marketing.

          1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            Re: Maybe I don't understand how this works

            > Remember: Renewable energy is a massively expensive solution that doesn't work to a problem that doesn't exist.

            That is obviously coal and oil industry dogma and propaganda.

            In this country most of our electricity comes from renewable hydro and geothermal power. It works fine and isn't as expensive as the small number of gas plants that we have. There are also some wind farms - built because they produce electricity much cheaper and the hydro can take over if the wind drops.

  6. SBU

    Chinese solar companies are engaged producing polution.

    Chinese solar companies are manufacturing solar cells that are of obsolete design and whose total lifecycle energy cost is about equivalent to the total lifespan energy output. The environmental damage from the manufacturing process is huge.

    By ensuring these Chinese cells are not dumped in the US it become much more viable for advanced technology (such as sliver cells) to be produced in the US. The environmental cost will be reduced, the TCO of solar installations will be reduced and the more advanced cells being produced will be far more energy positive that the imported ones.

    Chinese solars cells are little more than frozen coal powered electricity and are not helping the environment one iota. By adding these tariffs the net effect is an improvement to the environment. Win, win, win.

    1. Big John Silver badge

      Re: Chinese solar companies are engaged producing polution.

      But, but, I was given to understand that Trump just hates the planet!?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Chinese solar companies are engaged producing polution.

        No he doesn't.

        He wants to: "make America great again!" Which is a part of this planet in case you haven't noticed. :-)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Chinese solar companies are engaged producing polution.

        "But, but, I was given to understand that Trump just hates the planet!?"

        Not really, but even so, its better than someone who hates the people, isn't it?

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Chinese solar companies are engaged producing polution.

      Chinese solar companies are manufacturing solar cells that are of obsolete design

      Not sure if it is design or just manufacturing methods, but it's a fact - a lot of them are down to ~ 20% in 4 years time which defeats the point of using them.

      By adding these tariffs the net effect is an improvement to the environment. Win, win, win.

      No. It is a "Trump Win(TM)" - half baked exec order with a Tw*tter level attention span. Same as the travel bans.

      If the goal was to really kill the import of deliberately obsolete panels the tariff should have been 100%, bound to specific technological parameters and formulated so that let's say 70% are put into recycling escrow and only 30% are punitive.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Coming soon: "Patriot Coal" [TM]

    Patriot Coal is only 6000 years old!

    Contains no evidence of fossils or evolution.

    Less science, more Jesus.

  8. Nick Kew Silver badge

    WTO Rules?

    China may be a convenient scapegoat, but this affects manufacturers around the world who might seek to sell to the USA[1]. Including ours here in Blighty - and yes, we have at least one pure-play manufacturer of polysilicon wafers for the solar industry big enough to be FTSE-listed.

    Is this what international trade under WTO rules looks like?

    [1] Unless the article is misreporting.

    1. Big John Silver badge

      Re: WTO Rules?

      It is misreporting. This trade dispute is not new, and official complaints are on record for some years now. Trump wants to see US industry thrive and doesn't care for China's tactics, unlike Obama, who was just peachy about them.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Side Effects

        At least one other site is reporting that this move will probably lead to 23,000 job losses and increase the price of residential PV by around $1000 per house.

        I guess that is a good deal for the average voter then....?

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