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Solar Power Imports Dim Ahead of Trump Energy Policy

China 2820 Energy - Renewables 157 U.S. 5046

Wind- and solar-power equipment companies face a complex and shifting mix of energy and trade policies. That is particularly the case now with a change in U.S. presidential administration ahead. This could lead to  a more hawkish attitude towards trade, as discussed in Panjiva research of December 2, and an energy policy that emphasizes fossil fuels more than under the Obama administration.

It is perhaps not a surprise, therefore, that U.S. imports of solar cells, modules and panels fell 32.4% in November on a year earlier according to Panjiva data. This was the first decline in 2016, with the result that the 12 month trailing total of imports fell for the first time since August 2015. Wind energy equipment imports were already in decline, partly because of longer installation times and exposure to shifts in energy policy, fell another 17.8%.

SUNSET OR JUST AFTERNOON SHADE?

20161220-renewables-total

Lower panel combines solar and wind imports Source: Panjiva

The recent failure in the process to pass a global Environmental Goods Agreement may limit the opportunities for market growth for global exporters of renewable energy equipment. This doesn’t mean they will be able to simply cut prices and dump products into the U.S. market – this has already been covered in a 2012 trade case.

This has led Chinese manufacturers including Trina Solar and Jinko Solar to set up production in other countries including Vietnam. That hasn’t prevented a decline in their exports to the U.S. – Jinko’s exports were 83.8% lower and Trina’s 71.3% down in November on a year earlier.

It has also meant producers outside China gained market share. The leader is Hanwha Q-Cells (South Korea, Malaysia) which had 24.5% share of U.S. imports in November, and Vietnamese OEM Powerway (via its subsidiary Bovietsolar) which reached number three in market share from sixth historically.

JINKO JILTED, POWERWAY POWERS AHEAD

20161220-renewables-companies

Data segmented by company name including known subsidiaries Source: Panjiva

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