Friday, June 8, 2012
Why the Tariffs on Chinese Solar Panels are Bad for American Business
By Micah Steiger
Renewable Energy World
Two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Commerce sent a clear message to the American renewable energy community: “We don’t support you.”
By levying tariffs ranging from 30-250 percent on all solar panels imported from China, the ruling will constrict the growth of renewable energy here in America; driving up the prices for installers, their customers, and, ultimately, the American taxpayer. The legislation threatens to kill the very blue-collar jobs it claims to save.
Last October, the U.S. subsidiary of the German company SolarWorld Industries filed a petition claiming that Chinese manufacturers were infiltrating the US market, “dumping” their panels at less than cost in a drive to put U.S. manufacturers out of business. Chinese government subsidies, SolarWorld claims, made it impossible to compete
The irony is that becoming the world’s leading solar manufacturer is not a role the U.S. should seek to fill. The market that SolarWorld and Solyndra were fighting for is one of razor-thin margins, increasing automation, and commoditization. Meanwhile, companies like SolarCity, Sungevity, and Urban Green Energy are focusing on the actual implementation of solar and renewable energy technologies. In doing so, we are growing extremely fast and creating thousands of American jobs. These jobs, far outnumbering what would be created in manufacturing, cannot be outsourced. Further, our companies scale globally, bringing proven business models overseas and increasing the presence of American companies as leaders in the worldwide renewable energy industry.