It's not exactly new news that there've been grumblings in the US solar power industry about what some claim is unfair and possibly illegal support by the Chinese government for its domestic solar manufacturers and that this support hurts US manufacturers. Earlier in the fall it all came to a boil, no doubt partially under the added heat of the Solyndra debacle, and the Obama administration was petitioned to put punitive tariffs on Chinese solar products.
I've long thought that perhaps the answer would be to give greater US support for our own manufacturers, while at the same entering into some trade agreement, and keeping in the back of our minds that from the perspective of the planet that more renewable energy is a good thing no matter where it's built so long as it's offsetting old or new fossil fueled-power generation. But alas.
Now, Reuters reports, a coalition claiming to represent 97% of the US solar industry has asked SolarWorld to withdraw its petition seeking to penalize China.
The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy letter, addressed to SolarWorld's president said in part:
The severe tariffs SolarWorld seeks would have a very damaging effect on the solar industry in the United States and would fundamentally undermine many years of effort by all of us who care about the future of solar power.
In simple dollar terms, your petition threatens the planned installation of solar electric power systems in the amount of $11 billion in 2012 and the potential installation of $60 billion currently in the total pipeline.
By asking government to interfere and artificially increase the price (equivalent to putting on a high tax) will only hinder the deployment, cost thousands of jobs, reduce our energy security and further negatively impact an already shaky economy.
That detractors of China's solar power support would argue that the price of solar power is actually artificially low because of that support is obviously absent.
The backdrop to all this: In the US the third quarter of 2011 set a record for solar power installations. The US solar industry as a whole is doing quite well, if not manufacturers themselves which are being shaken out like a dust caked rug of late (BP's exit the latest), despite propaganda to the contrary from the polluting class.