This is largely thanks to China, whose government policies and increased drive to switch to a low-carbon economy accounted for half of all new solar panels installed that year. In fact, both the US and China, along with a (slightly stagnating Europe) are mostly responsible for the recent upsurge in the proliferation of solar power.
Even the US document focusing on the tariffs acknowledges this. “From 2012 to 2016, the volume of solar generation capacity installed annually in the United States more than tripled,” it reads.
Solar power is becoming increasingly cheaper, and communities up and down the planet – from those in low-income or developing nations to those in rural, conservative America – are adopting it. Another report highlighted the perhaps surprising influence of the latter: eight of the 10 fastest-growing US solar markets between 2016 and 2017 were states that voted for Trump.
The cheapness of solar panels is partly responsible for the massive uptick in installation of domestic solar panels across the US. Clearly, Americans increasingly want cost-effective solar panels to power their homes and cities, no matter where they come from.
Solar power still has a long way to go until it displaces still cheap coal, but it’s getting there. Sadly, regardless of the motivation behind it, this latest move by the US looks set to slow the US transition towards renewable energy.