In this week's news roundup, we discuss the state of shipping container costs and their impact on the solar industry, as well as growing pressure from utilities and other energy companies for Congress to pass a clean energy bill.
Rabobank, a Durch financial services company, recently released new figures showing that shipping container costs remain high. While costs have fallen from their peak in September 2021, they're still five times higher than they were two years ago, prior to the pandemic. Most solar panels and other solar system components sold in the United States are manufactured in China and rely heavily on these shipping containers for distribution—meaning these high shipping costs translate to higher costs and longer wait times for those looking to go solar. Rabobank predicts that shipping container costs will gradually decline over the next year, but won't reach pre-pandemic levels anytime soon. However, it's important to know that because inflation continues to increase the cost of other energy sources, you'll still save by going solar despite slightly higher installation costs.
Congress still hasn't passed the $3.5 trillion spending bill introduced last year, which includes $555 billion towards clean energy and climate change initiatives. From expanded tax credits for solar and electric vehicles to increased support for domestic solar manufacturing to federal rebates for heat pumps, this bill would greatly benefit the energy sector. This week, major utility companies, including Exelon Corp and Pacific Gas & Electric Corp., sent a letter to Congress urging members to pass legislation in support of climate action. In addition, over 400 solar and storage companies sent a separate letter calling for Congress to pass budget reconciliation. However, Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator who previously held up the bill from passing, has recently expressed new concerns about the package amid high inflation numbers.