This Week in Solar

The solar industry has been reeling this week, trying to decipher how each company is going to react to the "injury" fining in the Section 201 trade case, which will likely lead to tariffs on solar imports. The exact decision President Donald Trump makes in relation to tariffs won't likely come down until early 2018, but companies are preparing for the worst.

While the U.S. was preparing for the destruction of the solar industry, there was some positive news from around the world. Here's a look at the week's highlights.

Suniva and SolarWorld lower tariff targets

The original trade case brought up by Suniva suggested that there should be a tariff of $0.25 per watt for solar cells and a tariff of $0.32 per watt for modules with a price floor of $0.74 per watt. The price floor is a reduction of $0.04 per watt and an earlier proposal contemplated a cell tariff of $0.40 per watt.

Reducing tariff demands may ease some of the pain in the solar industry, although the impacts would almost entirely be negative. Outside of existing manufacturing plants that Suniva and SolarWorld are selling or have in bankruptcy, there's no significant solar cell manufacturing capacity in the U.S. and it could take years to build enough to supply the industry.

What's key in the next few weeks is what Suniva and SolarWorld propose as actual remedies and what is proposed by others in the industry. That's where the rubber will hit the road.

AES is making moves in solar

This week, AES Corporation (NYSE: AES) announced it will build 100 MW of solar capacity in El Salvador with local firm CMI. The project is expected to cost around $160 million and will sell electricity to the national grid for $0.1019 per kWh.

AES's subsidiary in Brazil also announced it will buy 180 MW of solar plants. The company will pay $764.8 million for the asset, which diversifies a primarily hydroelectric company with more renewable energy.

News and notes

There were also some significant news items for the industry that was a little further off the beaten path.

  • Canadian Solar (NASDAQ: CSIQ) will list the Canadian Solar Infrastructure Fund in Tokyo in a plan to own solar projects long term. The initial portfolio will be 72.7 MW of projects and could add more from Canadian Solar's portfolio in the country. This is analogous to the yieldco market in the U.S., but is a special fund structure allowed in Japan.
  • Siemens (NASDAQOTH: SIEGY) Gamesa is coupling a 28.8 MW solar farm with a 50 MW wind farm in India in an innovative new hybrid energy project. Combining the two energy sources could increase the energy density of land and reduce the variability of electricity flowing from renewable power plants.
  • ABB (NYSE: ABB), which is one of the biggest solar inverter suppliers in the world, will finance part of the largest lithium-ion battery plant being built in Sweden by Northvolt. ABB will not only invest, but will also research new products that could be produced in collaboration with Northvolt. This could advance the company's presence in energy storage, a key growth market for solar energy around the world.
  • The first solar plus storage plant without any government subsidy has been completed in the U.K. The 10 MW plant and 6 MW of energy storage will provide electricity to National Grid and show that even in a fairly low sunlight country solar energy can be extremely valuable.

That's all for this week in solar. Check back to next week for more on the industry and its plans ahead of the solar tariff ruling.

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