Editor's Note: The Sun Comes Up Again

July 29, 2014

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American solar module manufacturers have welcomed the federal anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese-made products, which had flooded the domestic solar energy market in the last couple of years. A more level playing field has given U.S. producers new life.

The eulogy for the U.S. solar module manufacturing industry seems to have had been written prematurely. For the survivors of the Chinese goods onslaught on the American solar market, they now could be seeing a large-scale retreat -- and new life.

After stemming the flood of below-cost solar modules from China in 2012 with tariffs, the federal government is readying a new round of duties to further prevent Chinese makers from dumping products onto the U.S. The measures have brought relief to U.S. makers, some of which are even expanding with new production plants. Also, Chinese producers are thinking of starting U.S. plants to avoid not only the tariffs but rising logistics costs of importing. The suddenly exploding solar market in China has them turning their attention back home, too.

That is not necessarily good news for utility-scale buyers and solar installers that have benefitted from low-price Chinese equipment. Analysts have said higher market prices could hamper growth of U.S. solar power, as it vies with other renewables for clean energy position. But in the long term, energy providers will be driven to look for other efficiencies in the value chain to deliver the lowest-cost electricity. Modules are a means to an end only, and right now, the tariffs’ leveling of the playing field for domestic makers and potential effect on Chinese newshoring investment are boons to American manufacturing. William Ng, Editor-in-Chiefwng@thomasnet.com

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