11042RE: [hreg] Trade War with China Could Cripple US Solar Industry
- Jan 16, 2012
Solar thermal water heating is cost effective in Houston when replacing an electric water heater, but it’s a hard sell
The problem is nobody in Houston gets excited about putting a water heater on their roof
Energy wise, China produces more solar water heaters than PV panels
Heliosolar Design Inc
PO Box 1938
Alief, TX 77411
I'm still wondering is there's a resource out there as to in which markets solar in cost-effective and which it's not. There was another email suggesting it's more cost-effective in Central America. What is the balance for Houston?
Friday, January 13, 2012
by Jigar Shah
Six decades ago, Gen. Omar Bradley warned that expanding the Korean War into China would be "the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong enemy." Now the same could be said about the trade war that is brewing with China in the solar energy industry.
Cutting off China and threatening U.S. solar jobs started in October when a German company with a manufacturing facility in Oregon filed a trade complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce demanding that punitive tariffs be imposed on solar panels and cells imported from China. Just before New Year's Day, several U.S. manufacturers filed a similar petition against China and Vietnam seeking special surcharges on wind towers imported from these countries.
Now that the first shots have been fired, there's a growing danger that China will retaliate. Already, China is considering asking the World Trade Organization to investigate alleged unfair practices in U.S. clean energy policies, including programs in Washington, California, New Jersey, Ohio and Massachusetts.
If these frictions ignite a full-scale trade war, our country's casualties could include eliminating many of 100,000-plus good-paying jobs (which have been expected to grow to almost 124,000 at the end of 2012), delaying dozens of solar energy projects, raising prices for consumers, reducing our energy security, and reversing the progress of an industry that is running an all-too-rare trade surplus with the rest of the world, including China.
For all the sound and fury, low prices for solar panels and cells aren't the problem, and protectionism isn't the solution. Several decades of private investment, public support and scientific progress are bearing fruit for a U.S. solar energy industry that now can generate electricity with costs, in some markets, that are competitive with power produced from fossil fuels.
At a time when the growth rate in the entire economy is a sluggish 0.7 percent, the U.S. solar industry, now numbering almost 5,000 companies, is expanding at a rate of 6.8 percent a year. Since 2009, the sector has doubled its workforce, providing more than 100,000 high-skilled, high-wage jobs, including installers, technicians and professionals in scientific research, finance and allied services.
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