US so­lar in­dus­try lost 10,000 jobs in 2017

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE - NEW YORK -AP

The U.S. so­lar in­dus­try lost nearly 10,000 jobs last year, led by steep losses in ma­ture mar­kets like Cal­i­for­nia and Mas­sachusetts where in­stal­la­tion growth has slowed, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port pub­lished.

It was the first time em­ploy­ment has con­tracted in the fast-grow­ing in­dus­try since the non-profit re­search firm The So­lar Foun­da­tion be­gan track­ing so­lar jobs in 2010.

Na­tion­wide, so­lar em­ploy­ment fell 3.8 per­cent to 250,271 jobs in 2017 from a high of 260,077 in 2016. A drop in both util­ity-scale and res­i­den­tial so­lar in­stal­la­tions, as well as in­dus­try jit­ters about tar­iffs on im­ported so­lar pan­els, were to blame for the de­cline, the re­port said.

Em­ploy­ment in the so­lar in­dus­try far out­paces that of the coal, wind and nu­clear en­ergy in­dus­tries, the re­port said, cit­ing fed­eral jobs data.

U.S. so­lar in­stal­la­tions fell in 2017 af­ter log­ging a record­break­ing year in 2016 as de­vel­op­ers raced to take ad­van­tage of a fed­eral tax credit that was meant to ex­pire that year. The credit was ex­tended by Congress, but it takes time for com­pa­nies to re­build their project pipe­lines.

In ad­di­tion, de­mand for res­i­den­tial sys­tems has slowed in large mar­kets like Cal­i­for­nia, Mas­sachusetts and Ne­vada be­cause in­cen­tives have be­come less lu­cra­tive. Home so­lar also broadly pulled back af­ter Tesla Inc bought So­larCity, putting the brakes on the in­staller's ag­gres­sive ex­pan­sion in part by elim­i­nat­ing its vast door-todoor sales op­er­a­tion.

The in­dus­try re­ported strong job growth in states in­clud­ing Min­nesota, Ari­zona, Utah, New Jer­sey, New York and Ten­nessee.

Over­all so­lar em­ploy­ment is ex­pected to re­sume growth next year, The So­lar Foun­da­tion said, pro­ject­ing em­ploy­ment of more than 263,000 by the end of this year, an in­crease of 5 per­cent.

That fore­cast is based on pro­jec­tions made be­fore Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump last month im­posed 30 per­cent tar­iffs on im­ported so­lar pan­els. The im­pact of the tar­iffs may not be fully felt un­til 2019, re­port au­thor Ed Gilliland said in an in­ter­view.

The trade case that re­sulted in the tar­iffs was brought by two U.S. so­lar man­u­fac­tur­ers, Su­niva and So­larWorld, which said they could not com­pete with an in­flux of cheap pan­els from over­seas, mainly Asia. The So­lar En­ergy In­dus­tries As­so­ci­a­tion trade group op­posed tar­iffs, ar­gu­ing they would drive up prices for the so­lar in­stall­ers and de­vel­op­ers.

Nearly 78 per­cent of so­lar jobs are in in­stal­la­tion, sales and project de­vel­op­ment, com­pared with just 15 per­cent in man­u­fac­tur­ing, The So­lar Foun­da­tion's re­port said.

LON­DON -REUTERS

Shang­hai Pudong De­vel­op­ment Bank cel­e­brate the launch of its Lon­don branch at Drap­ers Hall, in the City of Lon­don.

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