Matt: Thanks for this good question. A couple of comments first to frame my answer.
First, there needs to be a global commitment now to embrace renewable energy of any kind. Not by 2030, or god forbid beyond that, it needs to be immediate. Climate change is happening much faster than any of us imagined, and without a comprehensive switch away from fossil fuels, the Earth will not be a fit place for humans in just a few years.
Second, the United States middle class has largely disappeared. By off shoring, our manufacturing capability, we have triggered consequences that are hurting us every day. A radical growth in renewable energy industries gives us a quick pathway to create millions of great middle-class jobs, that will have countless benefits for our society.
Third, tariffs are a really foolish way to deal with competition. In the end, the consumer keeps buying and is the one that pays the extra cost created by the tariffs. Instead, we should have a serious subsidy and expand our renewable energy tax credits to incentivize the US renewable energy manufacturing sector.
To address the question, the price of a solar panel is about 1/3 of the cost of the installed price. Making the panel more expensive does not change the economics of a solar project that much. We are still seeing a great price per kWh of roughly 3 cents per kWh from utility scale solar projects. It is this number that is driving the electric utility companies crazy. Their pricing is no longer competitive, tariff or no tariff. Not to mention the environmental consequence of their offering.
We badly need to expand the renewable energy industry in the United States. We need to be able to produce everything needed for a successful renewable energy project. We need the utility companies to make the radical shift and buy renewable energy for redistribution.
Tariffs ultimately are relatively inconsequential when there are other better alternatives to get us to where we need to be.