Steel Tariffs May Hurt Growing Energy Storage Market

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The burgeoning battery-storage industry may become the latest to feel the sting of President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Prices for lithium-ion battery packs dropped 24 percent last year as it became cheaper to make them, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. But steel tariffs threaten to increase battery-installation costs by as much as 3 percent. (The batteries typically are protected with structures made of metal.)

“The tariffs could slow down some of the aggressive cost declines,” Ray Hohenstein, market applications director at energy storage firm Fluence Energy LLC

, said in an interview Wednesday at Infocast’s Solar Power Finance & Investment Summit in San Diego, California.

To be sure, that shouldn’t have much lasting impact on the industry as other manufacturing costs decrease, Kelly Speakes-Backman, chief executive officer of the Energy Storage Association, said in a phone interview Wednesday. And there may be a workaround: Concrete, which features in the shipping-container-like structures that protect batteries in larger projects, could be used for smaller battery packs.

©2018 Bloomberg News

Lead image credit: CC0 Creative Commons | Pixabay

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