Trump’s steel, aluminum tariffs to increase solar costs

Yesterday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that his administration will impose 25% import tariffs on steel and 10% on aluminum, for a potentially unlimited period, under a seldom-used 1962 law.

When enacted, the tariffs will be the result of a process initiated by Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross; however they are steeper than the 24% and 7.7%, which were among the possible options recommended by the Secretary.

As previously reported, Roth Capital estimated that Secretary Ross’ proposed trade actions would add 1-3 U.S. cents per watt to the cost of PV installations, by making the raw material for PV module frames, racking, tracking and mounting systems more expensive. However, as the President is proposing more severe action, the impacts will doubtless be on the upper end of that range.

Details of the tariffs were not available at the time this article was published, and President Trump indicated that they were still being written when he made the announcement on Thursday.

This follow’s Trump’s imposition of 30% tariffs on imported PV cells and modules. By pv magazine’s own calculations, the combination of solar, steel and aluminum tariffs could add $0.13 per watt to PV system prices, an increase of roughly 4-13% depending on the scale of the system.

Steel and aluminum tariffs will also make new gas plants and new generation of any kind more expensive.