Video exclusive: Top solar boss says Trump’s tariffs will have a ‘negative impact’ across the world
US President Donald Trump’s decision to enforce 30 per cent tariffs on imported solar panels is a move that ‘creates losers’, said one of Europe’s top solar experts.
“We think that the trade policies of the Trump administration are very regrettable, we don’t believe that trade wars are won very easily… they only create losers,” James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe, told Impact4All in a video interview.
The Trump administration will ‘undoubtedly’ have a negative impact on the overall flow of solar power and the solar industry across the world, said Watson.
“We have written to the EU Commission to tell them to negotiate harder to get Trump to drop the 30 per cent tariff on [non-US] solar panels,” the trade body CEO said.
However, the CEO was more positive on the imminent global opportunity for solar power. “The opportunity is absolutely immense at the moment. Today solar is the leading technology for the global renewables revolution,” he said.
Watson also pointed out that solar energy today is cheaper than most fossil fuels. “It’s cheaper than coal. In the last eight years we (solar) have come down in price by 75 per cent. It means that you, I, the people of Europe and the world can utilise this beautiful clean power,” he said.
In the last eight years solar has come down in price by 75 per cent. It means that you, I, the people of Europe and the world can utilise this beautiful clean power
“Things are looking bright, it’s a positive future, we think we’re really witnessing the dawn of a new solar revolution in Europe,” Watson added.
According to the latest report from SolarPower Europe, newly installed capacities on the continent grew by 31 per cent to 9.2 GW. This strong uptick follows a several year downturn trend that began in 2012 and bottomed in 2016. But when looking only at the European Union (EU), there was no growth at all – it stagnated at 5.9 GW. While European solar was lifted by strong solar demand in Turkey, the EU-28 still suffered from the UK’s solar ‘exit.’
Referring to UK government’s sudden relinquishment of its feed-in solar tariff in 2015, Watson commented: “One of the problems that we have faced in this sector is the measures that governments put in place [to support solar] and then takes away faster than they said they would.
“Of course, that makes it difficult to do business. We expect stable frameworks to be delivered for our sector… but ultimately because we are a resilient and cost effective sector we are still able to do business.”
According to SolarPower Europe’s latest report, the top solar markets in Europe until 2022 are Germany, France and Turkey.