Trump’s trade war is hitting solar workers hard

While politicians are debating the merits of a massive
job-creating effort known as the Green New Deal, jobs in solar
power are getting harder to find.

The solar industry lost 8,000 jobs last year, a drop of 3.2
percent and the second straight year of declines, according to The
Solar Foundation’s annual report out Tuesday. That’s a sharp
change after six years of growth.

Solar jobs largely come from the manufacturing and construction
of new rooftop panels and solar farms, so these employment numbers
offer a snapshot of the entire industry. The losses come
as experts
call
 for a massive ramp up in solar power as part of a larger
effort to displace electricity generated with fossil-fuels.

What’s driving this? The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit
research firm, lays most of the blame for job losses on President
Donald Trump’s tariffs. Trump imposed tariffs against imported
solar panels, along with two key materials — steel and aluminum,.
Companies, uncertain about exactly how these tariffs will work,
have put the brakes on operations. By last June, companies had
canceled or delayed the construction of $2.5 billion worth of solar
facilities,
according to Reuters
.

We can also chalk up some of the job losses to more local
government quirks.. The two states that saw the biggest job losses
were California (9,576), and Massachusetts (1,320), according the
report. California companies have less incentive to build more
solar farms because the state is ahead of its targets for renewable
energy. And there was some policy uncertainty in Massachusetts as
the state government crafted new targets for solar power. It issued
those targets last September, and afterward saw a rise in
applications to build more panels.

The Solar Foundation

The Solar Foundation anticipates a turnaround soon. This year,
for instance, solar companies will need to begin construction on
projects to take advantage of a tax credit that expires next
year.

“Despite two challenging years, the long-term outlook for this
industry remains positive as even more Americans turn to low-cost
solar energy and storage solutions to power their homes and
businesses,” said Andrea Luecke, executive director of the
foundation.

It’s important to remember that The Solar Foundation’s
not-so sunny report is a single source of data (though the
Department of Energy’s official numbers have been roughly in line
with this nonprofit’s).

It’s also important to remember that solar is just one sector
of a clean energy economy that includes everything from home
insulators to train-engine designers. The DOE has not yet released
its annual report on employment for 2018, but its report from May of
last year showed increases in energy efficiency and wind power jobs
dwarfed the contraction in solar jobs.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline
Trump’s trade war is hitting solar workers hard
on Feb 12,
2019.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News 2
Trump’s trade war is hitting solar workers hard