China is Not a Problem, But a Help (When It Comes to Our Solar Power Goals)

Arno Harris of Recurrent Energy has a great post up on National Geographic’s The Greet Energy Challenge that I think anyone interested in should read. Here’s the intro:

Rumors are swirling about the next shoe to drop in the campaign against renewable energy. A handful of struggling solar manufacturers are expected to announce they are joining a petition to the International Trade Commission and the US Department of Commerce (DOC). The petition is expected to allege China unfairly subsidizes solar manufacturers and is dumping solar modules on the global market below cost (a view exacerbated by a few high profile solar company bankruptcies I).

A successful petition would be the first step towards imposing tariffs on solar panels imported from China. The announcement is timed to coincide with the start of, the USs largest solar trade fair taking place next week in Dallas.

Lets state plainly whats going on here. A group of manufacturers who cant compete with todays solar panel prices are seeking to erect trade barriers to make the US a safe market for their own more expensive solar panels. They want to prevent Americans from getting access to low-cost solar panels and low-cost solar electricity so they can sell their own more costly product to them instead.

That’s the gist of it. But Harris goes on to emphasize that we should do everything we can to (as China is doing) and starting a trade war with China on solar wouldn’t help anyone but those in a few niche solar companies.

As we’ve reported repeatedly on here, the in the U.S. We are a net exporter of solar goods. Why jeopardize that? The industry now provides with jobs (more than the coal industry). Why jeopardize that?

Harris goes on:

This is clearly a tactic in the narrow self-interest of the manufacturers joining the petition. Its not in the interest of American consumers. Its not in the interest of ratepayers. Its not in the interest of our national security. And its certainly not in the interest of slowing global climate change.

And, reiterating what I said above about dropping solar costs and what our overall priority should be:

, but its worth saying again. The best thing we can do is encourage the solar industry to ruthlessly drive down the cost of solar panels. And thats exactly what the industry has been doing with manufacturing in the US, Europe, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and beyond. As a result, since 2008 the cost of solar panels has come down by roughly 75% with most of that coming from reductions in silicon commodity costs and manufacturing improvements.

The less solar power costs, the more favorably it compares to conventional power, and the more attractive it becomes to utilities and energy users around the globe. Todays low cost solar panels are overturning antiquated notions about the limits of solar power and driving a massive wave of new demand for clean solar-generated electricity.

Let’s hope those in power have the sense to not maim a rapidly growing industry that is creating clean, green jobs for more and more Americans.

Photo Credit:by

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