South Africa imposes tariffs on imported solar mounting kit more harm than good
Solar mounting kit manufacturer ARTsolar has filed a petition with the South African International Trade Management Board to impose tariffs on all imported solar mounting kit. The solar system manufacturer stated in its March filing that South Africa does not currently protect its solar mounting kit manufacturers like the US and Europe, although European trade protection measures were cancelled last year.
“Because of the fierce competition from low-priced imported products, some solar system manufacturers have stopped their production operations in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) region,” the petitioner presented in the petition. The Southern African Customs Union region also includes Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Esvatini.
Andy Pegg, chief executive of SegenSolar, a South African subsidiary of British solar mounting kit distributor, said import tariffs could cause off grid solar kit prices in South Africa to skyrocket by 10% overnight. “A 10% tariff will eventually be passed on to customers or installers in the form of rising product prices – which could lead to a sharp drop in demand and squeeze margins, especially for small dealers.”
Peggy added that the main problem with South African tariffs will be the lack of government support for the off grid solar kit industry. Peggy said that in order for tariffs to be effective, the policy and regulatory environment must support the growth and supply of the off grid solar kit renewable energy industry. “For example, the explosive growth of off grid solar kit in China is due to its continuous growth in solar ground mount kit installations based on demand – from 10% in 2012 to 55% in 2017,” Peggy said.
Chris Ahlfeldt, an energy expert at Blue Energy Consulting Services, said that the addition of tariffs could have a net negative impact on employment in South Africa's domestic solar ground mount kit industry, and that rising prices could affect customers' choices for solar ground mount kit . “Compared with globalsolar system manufacturing, solar ground mount kit installations create much more local jobs, so the focus of government work should be on accelerating industry growth to create more jobs, rather than by increasing tariffs. , hindering the development of the solar panel mounting kit industry,"
Afelt believes that the best way to stimulate the localization of the solar panel mounting kit industry is to create stable demand. He said that the government should not impose tariffs, but should focus on the formulation of laws and regulations in the industry, as well as regular procurement of large public projects. He said: "South Africa's REIPPPP (renewable energy independent power generation project) has localization requirements, but the delay of the solar panel mounting kit project has led to the closure of most of the solar module assembly capacity of companies such as Solairedirect, SunPower and Jinko Solar in the past few years." Ert added that South Africa is a member of the World Trade Organization, so the imposition of new tariffs may cause South Africa to violate trade laws like other countries.
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