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climate-changed

How Trump's China Tariffs Could Affect America's Power Plant Boom

  • Included on list of potential products are turbines, batteries
  • Impact on battery industry may be “minimal”: GTM analyst

Of all the Chinese goods that President Donald Trump is proposing to tax, here are a few that could affect the U.S. power industry the most:

  • Gas turbines
  • Wind-powered electric generating sets
  • Electrical transformers
  • Lithium, nickel-cadmium and lead-acid batteries

While electricity producers, renewable energy developers and battery installers are still weighing the impact of the tariffs on the power generation boom the U.S. has seen in the past decade, here’s what a few analysts have said so far:

  • General Electric Co.’s natural gas-fired turbines are a popular choice for U.S. generators, and presumably those won’t be affected by the tariffs, said William Nelson, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst. But “there are certainly turbines imported from overseas, so there’s potential impact here,” he said.
  • The renewable energy industry may have more to lose than gas generators since a turbine represents a smaller fraction of a new gas plant’s costs than the equipment for a wind farm, according to Nelson. “Wind is all capex,” he said.
  • The impact on the battery industry will be “minimal,” according to GTM Research energy analyst Ravi Manghani, who noted that Trump’s list includes mostly primary (non-rechargeable) batteries. The duties will probably affect companies such as Exide and Johnson Controls, which imports lead acid batteries from facilities in China, he said.
  • BNEF storage analyst Logan Goldie-Scot similarly said energy storage projects that use rechargeable, lithium-ion batteries shouldn’t be affected if Trump’s list is focused on primary batteries.
  • The trade groups that represent wind, solar and utility interests in the U.S. weren’t immediately available for comment late Tuesday.
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