The solar industry was in the crosshairs this week as President Donald Trump said he would withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement that the Obama administration had signed. On the surface, this seems like bad news for the solar industry, but that may not be the case in the long term.
As the politics of climate change roar in the U.S., solar companies continue to see growth around the world that's driven by the fundamentally compelling economics of solar energy. Here's a look at the way Trump's choices could move the needle on solar, as well as some notable industry news on other fronts.
Chill out about Paris
It would be easy to assume that the U.S. exiting the global Paris Climate Agreement would be bad news for solar stocks. But look at the chart below to see how solar stocks responded to the news: There was almost no reaction, and some solar stocks are up for the week.
The reason the market isn't freaking out about the U.S. leaving the Paris accord is that the deal was never the driver of solar adoption around the world. In China, India, South Africa, the Middle East, and the U.S., utilities, companies, governments, and individuals are making the decision to install more solar power systems because it's a cheaper energy source than fossil fuels. Trump's move to back away from the Paris targets does nothing to change that, and the market seemed to realize it.
What it does do is put more uncertainty on the Trump administration's upcoming decision on the Suniva trade case. If the result is that tariffs are imposed on all solar imports to the United States, it could crush the solar industry here for years to come, costing the country thousands of jobs. There could be more uncertainty ahead if this week's Paris Agreement announcement was any indication.
News and notes
Here are a few other notable items from the week.
- SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) announced that it won 64 MW of contracts in the French rooftop tender process (whereby solar companies bid on projects). That's 57% of this tender, and gives it a total 194 MW of tenders won when combined with its wins in the commercial tender earlier this year. The projects will primarily use panels manufactured in France.
- JinkoSolar (NYSE:JKS) announced that it has supplied 65 MW of solar panels to a project in India. JinkoSolar is the No. 1 solar supplier in the world, and winning projects in the booming India market is a big deal.
- Canadian Solar (NASDAQ:CSIQ) announced that it will supply 268 MW of modules to the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai. In total, it will be an 800 MW installation, and an important project in the important Middle Eastern market.
- In March, for the first time, the renewable energy industry provided 10% of U.S. electricity supply, according to recently released data. That's a huge milestone for the industry and shows just how big solar has gotten in the U.S. Expect more milestones to be hit as solar intensity increases this summer.