US solar sector jobs dropped by 8,000 or around 3.2% in 2018 due to tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on imported PV panels, according to a report by The Solar Foundation.
Furthermore, changes in the policies at the state level also affected demand for installations.
The solar sector was considered to be among the fastest growing segments in the US energy industry.
According to the non-profit research firm’s annual survey report Solar Jobs Census, the jobs in the US solar sector dropped by 8,000 to 242,000 in 2018. In 2017, the industry had experienced a loss of 10,000 jobs. However, the report stated that jobs are expected to increase in 2020.
Last year, US President Donald Trump imposed a 30% tariff on solar panels imported into the country in an attempt to give a boost to the domestic manufacturing sector. However, this has led to a trade war.
The move by the administration has made developers either to cancel or halt investments in large-scale projects given that the majority of the solar panels used in the country are manufactured overseas.
Jobs in the manufacturing segment dropped by 8% in 2018. This segment is only a small portion of the total sector.
According to the report, policies of US states are also important to the solar sector’s growth as changes in incentives and rates led to losses in jobs. For instance, in California, the pace of growth of the commercial market slowed down due to a shift in rates that seemed less favourable to the solar sector.
However, The Solar Foundation expects jobs to grow by 7% in 2020, due to a dip in PV panel prices.
In 2018, China reduced subsidies for solar installations. As a result, low-cost panels flooded the global market, pushing prices further below they were before the US tariffs came in.
Some companies such as JinkoSolar are opening US plants to avoid tariffs.