Solar power industry blames Trump tariffs for slowing growth

The growth of solar power slowed in 2018’s third quarter, a result that the industry blames on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build Trump Tower in Moscow during 2016 campaign: report DC train system losing 0k per day during government shutdown Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees MORE’s tariffs for imported solar panels.

Companies installed just 1.7 gigawatts of solar capacity between July and September, a 15 percent decrease from the same period last year and 20 percent below the previous quarter, according to a quarterly Thursday report that Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables prepared for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Residential solar growth was essentially flat to both a year ago and previous quarters.

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But at just 678 megawatts, utility-scale solar growth dropped more than 30 percent from a year ago. It is the first time since 2015 that utility solar installations grew less than 1 gigawatt.

Nonetheless, analysts found that contracts for future installations outpaced actual installations in the third quarter, so they expect growth to be stronger in the coming quarters.

SEIA, the main national lobbying group for the solar industry, puts the blame for the decline squarely on Trump.

“If not for the tariffs, the U.S. solar market would undoubtedly look better today than it does now,” SEIA president Abigail Ross Hopper said in a statement. “However, as this report shows, this is a resilient industry that cannot be kept down for long. With smart policies in place, the potential for the solar industry is hard to overstate.”

The report predicts 3.5 gigawatts of new capacity in the fourth quarter.

Trump in January put a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels in an effort to protect domestic panel manufacturers. Supporters argue that foreign countries, especially China, are improperly flooding the market.

Along with tariffs on washing machines, it was the first major move in what’s now an all-out trade war Trump is waging with numerous countries.