The wind energy industry is on the verge of collapse in the US due to expiration of tax credits. Now the Obama Administration is getting into a pointless trade war, imposing punitive tariffs on Chinese solar panels of up to 36%.
The tariffs can be avoided by Chinese manufacturers assembling the panels elsewhere (which makes the whole charade even more pointless.) However, such tariffs will unquestionably be met by Chinese tariffs on the imported silicon used to make the solar panels, most of which comes from the US. Thus, many US businesses will be hurt by the coming trade war.
Will solar get hurt as badly as wind power is now? If the price of solar panels jumps dramatically then many solar installations may no longer be cost-effective. Plus, how can a wholesaler or installer even guarantee what prices will be to a potential customer? Thus, many potential customers may simply decide to install solar sometime in the future but certainly not now.
10 GW renewable energy on public lands has been approved so far by the Obama administration, with the recent approval of a ginormous 3 GW wind farm in Wyoming. But if the price of solar PV increases and with the wind tax credit gone, will these projects actually get built? Approval of a project is just a first step in a very long process of getting funding, filing EIRs, building roads and interconnects with the grid, etc. A spike in prices for materials and / or a reduction in tax credits could easily scuttle a big renewable energy project.