The day of judgement for the long-threatened tariffs on imports of inverters from China has arrived, and it is as bad or worse than many in the industry feared. As announced by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. President Donald Trump this evening, the United States is imposing tariffs on roughly $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, including inverters and non-lithium batteries, through Section 301.
These tariffs will start on September 24 at 10%, and will increase to 25% on January 1, 2019. In a call with reporters senior administration officials noted that the delay is intended give time for companies dependent upon these imports to shift supply chains.
For inverter makers supplying the U.S. solar market, such shifts are already underway. Sungrow has the option of shipping product from its 3 GW inverter factory in India and Enphase, which is reliant on contract manufacturer Flex, is shifting production to Mexico. However, as this factory is not expected to be producing microinverters until the second quarter of 2019, this means that Enphase will be hit with up to nine months of import duties.
Overall the impact of these tariffs is expected to be greater on the market share of individual inverter suppliers than the solar market writ large, as inverters make up a small portion of overall project costs.