How much are tariffs and the intensifying U.S.-China trade war hurting the solar industry?
Not much, according to a panel of solar energy executives speaking at the Fortune Global Sustainability Forum in Yunnan, China on Friday morning.
“It’s neutral for us,” said Eric Luo, Chairman and CEO of GCL System Integration Technology, a Chinese solar company. “The fact is the [trade war] hasn’t slowed down the global demand,” he said, adding that the 30% tariffs on imported solar panels imposed by the Trump administration have been offset by advances that have accompanied industry growth. (Installations have a 24- to 36-month project development timeline, and prices of panels are declining quickly.) “That is why you see globally, even with the trade war, in the U.S. you see installations,” he said.
“The tariffs have been overwhelmed by the scale and costs coming down,” agreed Tom Werner, the CEO of California-based SunPower. He said he has more pressing concerns than trade tensions, such as anticipating future threats and how to innovate, particularly when it comes to solar power storage and software to integrate with the grid.