Will Wind Turbine Tower Tariff Spark a US-China Renewable Energy Trade War?

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On the heels of a decision that imposed a tariff of up to 35 percent on some Chinese solar panel manufacturers, the U.S. Department of Commerce has now ruled that wind turbine towers made in China also benefited from unfair subsidies and has imposed duties ranging from 13.7 to 26 percent on those towers.

The decision, announced Wednesday by the Commerce Department, comes in response to a complaint filed late last year by a coalition of U.S. wind tower manufacturers made up of Broadwind Energy, DMI Industries, Trinity Structural Towers and Katana Summit.

The decision was lauded by the United Steelworkers. “We have plate mills that are idle right now as a consequence, so this is a good deal,” said Gary Hubbard, a United Steelworkers spokesman.

It remains unclear what impact, if any, the new tariffs will have on wind turbine manufacturers in the U.S.. As opposed to solar panel imports, wind tower imports make up a relatively small portion of the total U.S. market, but some analysts report that Siemens, Vestas and GE could all feel the impact of more expensive Chinese towers.

Critics of the new renewable energy tariffs in both the U.S. and China warn that the duties could lead to a trade war between the two countries.

“Resorting to protectionist measures will not help solve these frictions; it will harm business ties between the two,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin during a regularly scheduled press briefing.

China has already responded to the recently created solar panel tariffs by filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization. In the complaint, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce charges that the U.S. violated free-trade rules by unfairly subsidizing six renewable energy projects.

Article by Timothy Hurst, appearing courtesy Earth & Industry.

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Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.