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Student comments on Tariffs on Photovoltaic Panels could accelerate efforts to unravel previous EPA administration measures to curb emissions.

  1. Approaching the pending Rule 201 decision from the perspective of how a regulatory body, the EPA, will be strategically and operationally impacted brings a new lens to the situation. While the EPA is not a direct part of the solar development supply chain, in their goal to implement the Clean Power Plan (CPP) as part of their overall mission to “protect human and environmental health,” shifting power generation to clean sources like solar and away from traditional sources like oil & gas is a key factor. It would be interesting to further analyze the “supply chain” of a regulatory body by considering their key inputs (legislation passed by Congress/executive rules, external market research/studies like the Dept. of Health & Human Services one you recommended, academic and industry research, etc.), their process (how they transform information into policy & action), and their key outputs (implementation, monitoring and enforcement of regulation, support and partnership to other organizations, and environmental study and advocacy). As you point out, there is hope that the administration may take a more nuanced view of the situation and how it will holistically affect all of the key stakeholders – this will be one to watch.

  2. Really appreciated learning how tariffs will affect PVs – since as you point out 86% of solar installations’ panels are assembled abroad.

    Tying this to another mega-trend (climate change) – to your point on how increasing isolationism hurts clean energy efforts, it also hurts our attempts to curb climate change. Moreover, the longer-term negative consequences of these tariffs extend beyond price – it affects consumer behavior and firms’ expectations. Another generation of consumers may grow up skeptical/ resistant to solar – which from my conversations with solar developers, seems like one of the biggest blocks of installation. Firms may not invest in further clean energy R&D. Both hurt our ability to deal with climate change longer-term.

  3. This was entirely new to me so thank you for writing this up! I think it’s interesting how much companies resort to government “solutions” to address problems given how changeable the impact can be administration to administration – seems so risky to me to rely on government protection in your business model. In my opinion, it would be a shame for these tariffs to be put into place. Suniva should see the price differential as a call to market that they need to diversify their supply chain, potentially leverage less expensive global supply chain inputs (i.e., solar panel production, labor, etc.) to match the lower prices other foreign solar companies are able to meet. I understand the dilemma – it is important to create jobs in the US as well but I think if a company like Suniva used a global supply chain such that they were able to sell in the US without tariffs constricting solar panel pricing (making their price less than or equal to that of foreign competitors), other jobs will be created selling and installing more solar panels in the US. I agree with you that more data on the downstream effect of tariffs would be important in making this administrative decision.

  4. While these tariffs could very well have a devastating impact on residential solar installers, if they take effect it will be very interesting to see their effect on the solar industry as a whole. After years of being supported by government subsidies, at the hearing on these tariffs one CEO remarked that solar is ““on a glide path to being a fully self-sustaining industry” ( Could this still be the case, even in the face of this new obstacle?

  5. Super interesting article! I would like to add another perspective on adoption of ITC recommendations. If the government approves minimum import price for modules and cells, US-based manufactures will have little incentives to invest in new technologies in order to reduce price of modules and cells. In absence of external competition, the growth of the US solar industry is likely to drop, leaving US behind the global solar industry. High prices of solar energy and high prices of coal energy (as mentioned in the article) will not make US customers happy. So while current US administration might deliver it’s promise to support coal industry, it will do so at the expense of the US energy consumers by making electricity more expensive than it costs today.

  6. Very interesting! I am struck by the thesis that doubling the price of solar modules would impact 99% of the solar supply chain. I am curious, if this ITC measure goes through, what the real implication will be for the price of solar modules and the overall solar supply chain. I would imagine new U.S. solar manufacturers would emerge to fill in the void of foreign suppliers, expecting demand for their product would increase. If this happens, PV prices would certainly increase from current levels (due to high U.S. manufacturing costs). However, I wonder if domestic manufacturing may, in part, mitigate the price escalation due to lower shipping and packaging costs. Moreover, PV developers might be able to maintain better relationships with their suppliers, which could help improve their operational efficiency or enable them to lock in better rates. It will be a fascinating dynamic to track!

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