As our reliance on traditional sources of energy wanes, solar power will continue to play a large and ever-growing role in shaping the economy of the future. At Trina Solar, we believe the solar industry serves a crucial function both domestically in the United States and internationally by creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs, generating clean renewable energy and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.
Due to the solar sector’s size and strength, introducing unnatural obstacles into this segment of the renewable market can produce negative results. For instance, imposing any sort of tariff or minimum price requirements for PV panels will significantly raise the price of solar systems in the US. A higher cost will significantly impact U.S. demand for solar, and endangers solar companies' ability to win new contracts for installing solar power arrays, either on rooftops or in large-scale utility solar farms.
Solar's a major economic powerhouse
The solar value chain runs deep, stretching across several different sectors, not just manufacturing. Because of this vast reach, the U.S. solar industry contributed $84 billion to the country's gross domestic product in 2016, according to the Solar Foundation's "Economic Impacts Report 2016."
The sheer size and reach of the solar sector make it part of the global economy, no different than other industries using high-tech products, such as mobile phones, computers, automobiles, televisions, etc. Constricting the flow of materials and resources into the U.S. through the use of import restrictions, duties, and tariffs severely limits the capability of the industry to deliver products at costs that are globally competitive. We need manufacturing in the U.S., including solar, but we must also have the business flexibility to use resources from overseas to meet the massive and growing demand for PV cells and modules. This includes the tens of billions of dollars in direct spending this industry generates each year and the hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs that accompany it.
Last year, solar was the No. 1 source of new electricity capacity in America with 39 percent of the total share of new capacity going online, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association's "US Solar Market Insight 2016 Year-in-Review." Solar is powering homes and farms, churches and military installations, businesses and nonprofits across the country with an abundant domestic source of clean, renewable energy.
Solar provides the jobs of today and tomorrow
The solar industry has been a major job creator over the past decade and this trend should continue as more people realize the great benefits afforded with this clean, renewable energy source. Much of this job growth has come in the past four years, in which industry jobs have increased at least 20 percent annually, according to the Solar Foundation's Solar Jobs Census 2016. The solar industry produced one out of every 50 new jobs in the U.S. during 2016 - this accounted for 2 percent of all new jobs in the country during that period!
Of the more than 260,000 total jobs in the U.S. solar industry,137,000 are in installation. Sales and distribution, project development and other jobs (R&D, finance) account for more than 80,000 jobs. These are all well-paying positions, and many of the skills needed in other sectors, such as coal mining, can transfer well to the solar industry. While California, Massachusetts, Texas, Nevada and Florida boast the most solar-sector jobs, these 260,000 workers operate in all 50 states. Tariffs on imported pv solar modules and cells, and the consequential price increase would potentially impact tens of thousands of American jobs tied to growth in solar demand at a time when the industry is thriving. Currently, the bulk of our 260,000 jobs come as a result of growth in the industry outside of domestic solar cell and module manufacturing operations. Any efforts to assist the domestic manufacturing sector in response to the Section 201 petition now before the International Trade Commission must not come at the expense of even more American jobs in solar installation, sales, development, R&D and all the other positions necessary for supporting this booming industry.
Join the ranks, raise your voice
Get involved with the Save America's Solar Jobs campaign today by joining America's community of solar industry professionals, advocates, and leaders who recognize the need for more solar growth in the United States and are ready to hold lawmakers accountable. Sign up here to add your name to the ever-expanding list of solar supporters.
Trina Solar is a world leader in solar manufacturing, and just like the SEIA and many other solar industry groups, we support fair and free trade of solar equipment and oppose the establishment of new tariffs or other barriers.
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