U.S. solar projects may be threatened by tariffs

Duties on Chinese-based panel makers dampen project pipeline

SAN FRANCISCO — Solar projects worth more than three gigawatts are at risk due to the recently imposed tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels, researchers at NPD Solarbuzz said in a report Monday.

The projects had been set to use Chinese-made panels, but the rulings by the U.S. Department of Commerce may push companies to find other suppliers or potentially pay higher prices for those modules, the report said.

Ground-mount projects, which are half of the U.S. solar project pipeline and are usually large in scale, are particularly vulnerable to cost increases since many pre-sold the energy to be produced through power price agreements. signed

"Any increase in cost for the projects could mean renegotiation, delay, or even termination," Michael Barker, a senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz, said in the report.

Following a complaint and an investigation, the U.S. government set preliminary anti-subsidies duties in June and anti-dumping tariffs two weeks ago on Chinese-made solar panels. The duties vary from company to company.

Chinese companies have supplied roughly a third of solar modules installed in the U.S. last year, and more than half the modules used in residential systems.

Chinese-based solar-panel makers were mixed on Monday, with JinkoSolar Holding Co. U.S.-listed shares JKS +8.62% down 0.8%. U.S.-listed shares of Trina Solar Ltd. TSL +6.92% advanced 1.3%.

Shares of solar-panel maker First Solar Inc. FSLR +1.01% rose 2.5%. The company is a frequently cited as a beneficiary of the tariffs within the large-scale utility market. Solar installer SolarCity Corp. SCTY +1.93% shares fell 0.8%.

U.S. stocks traded higher on Monday, recouping some of last week's slide losses.

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