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How Solar Industry Could See A Major Convulsive Shock At The End Of The Year

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Fate of Solar Industry In 2017

Solar panel prices fall has been an industry phenomenon since the last 10 years ever since the Chinese solar panel companies entered the industry in force. Through massive subsidies from the Chinese government, these companies expanded scale like there was no tomorrow and sent prices crashing down each year. 2016 was no different with another massive price fall of 30% leading to almost all major solar companies such as Hanwha, GCL going into the red. Some major companies such as Motech even saw their margins go to a whopping negative 100% as the unabated price wars in the industry hollowed out the companies.

Solar Panels USA

Also, read The U.S. Solar Companies Keep Falling Like Nine Pins Against Chinese Ruthless Onslaught

Suniva was another casualty of the second major global downturn in solar manufacturing having closed both its factors and fired all its workers. The second largest solar panel manufacturer in the U.S. after Solarworld could not compete with the super low cost Chinese solar panels and had zero choices. Even some of the best run western companies like First Solar (with Malaysian factories) is finding the going tough, leave alone the smaller companies. As a parting shot, Suniva has filed a case with the U.S. government under a trade law to impose a minimum import price, which is almost double the price of solar panels now. Note the U.S. government already imposes very high anti-dumping and countervailing duties on the imports of Chinese and Taiwanese made solar panels.

However, this has easily been circumvented by the Chinese solar panel giants who have used Thailand, Malaysian, Vietnam factories to push hundreds of millions of dollars of solar exports to the U.S. last year, making a joke of the U.S. government’s ADD and CVD. The major concern is that such a law might pass given the current political dispensation in the U.S. with Donald Trump being highly unpredictable and being extremely favorable towards manufacturing. This case fits right into his political agenda.

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Implications of Imposition of Minimum Import Prices on solar

The implications of such a move would be quite huge as USA is the 2nd largest solar market in the world and is expected to install 15 GW+ in 2017. With the Chinese shut out of this market, they would send the prices crashing again in the rest of the world, as the glut would become even gluttier. Many of Tier 2 Chinese solar companies which are already facing huge losses could sink very quickly. The rest of the non-U.S. solar panel makers would certainly vanish without a trace.

The U.S. solar installation, especially the utility industry would see a massive shock of about 30-40% rise in prices, while the residential and commercial segments of rooftop solar could see a 10-20% rise in prices. This would lead to a loss in a large number of jobs and would slow the U.S. industry. The fossil fuel industry would be a big beneficiary in the U.S. as it has recently seen solar prices go below that of coal and gas. This would make them more competitive at least in the short term.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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