By Justin Guay,
If anyone needed proof that clean energy is the future we need, look no further than the US has filed against China over wind and . Nations simply do not fight over unprofitable, unviable sectors. Instead they do exactly what China, India, the EU, and the US are all doing: positioning themselves to capture as large a portion of the booming market as they can.
With the distributed solar segment alone , its clear that . Debilitating trade wars and evisceration of manufacturing in key economies only serves to weaken the industry. This is something the world can ill afford, because at the end of the day, the much bigger game is already underway: dislodging the entrenched fossil fuel industry.
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Part of the problem is optics. Just days after the US trade dispute was filed, India was forced to largely due to concerns of future disputes from the US and the EU. However, despite , important exceptions (, for instance) have created for US companies. Domestic content rules clearly do not necessarily preclude wider benefits to the industry as a whole.
Missing the forest for the trees
, it is important to remember that this industry will continue to experience tremendous growth. As Forbes suggests, the real race (or game, if you like) is to ensure solar, and all clean energy, is able to . While subsidies and grid parity are important, the real issue here is political muscle.
The fact is that technological innovations occur in political economies. Important innovations do not automatically translate into changed market places (though price decreases, high rates of innovation and less reliance on subsidies are of course tremendously important). They dont, a fossil fuel lobby on one side with over a hundred years head start and obscene levels of subsidies (), and an incredibly young, and immature industry starved for even basic political and financial support (except, it seems, ).
This leads to US policy-making attempting to gut the clean energy industry. In India despite a that is getting and producing expensive power .
Without a robust clean energy industry, the fossil fuel lobby will continue to , and politicians will be just fine with that regardless of how irrational this support may seem. So as unappealing as it may seem, threatens US clean energy manufacturing and, by extension, .
Clean energy industries in India, the U.S., and throughout the world need serious domestic political muscle that requires this important link in the value chain. In the short term this may mean domestic content provisions are necessary (Not just for the US but for India and other major economies as well). If we want coal fired power plants and internal combustion engines to go the way of the dinosaur, we need a robust locus of political power in these key economies. Without that, we lose the real war.
Editor’s Note: This column comes to us courtesy of Sierra Club. Author credit for this column goes to Jusin Guay.