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Dec 11 2011

US, China in solar power throwdown

This is not quite the kind of international friction I like to see, especially with regard to technology with such promise and in such infancy.

Upon an appeal filed by SolarWorld Industries America and six other undisclosed firms, the US Department of Commerce (DOC) said on 8 November that it would conduct an investigation to determine whether Chinese firms have been selling solar panels in the US at unfair discounts and receiving illegal government subsidies, China Daily states.
[...]

Beijing is promoting renewable energy, both to curb rising demand for imported oil in the world’s second-largest economy and in the hopes of creating a profitable technology export industry. It gives research grants and tax breaks to developers, but says they are in line with those given by other governments and comply with free-trade rules, The Washington Post reports.

One good thing that came out of the Cold War was humankind’s newfound and yet-barely-tested ability to leave this planet’s gravity well. Now the US and China are competing with one another for solar power — and considering they’re the two biggest climate baffles with regard to CO2 production, a little solar war would benefit the planet greatly. Too bad they’re really throwing down over imports and tariffs, stifling trade of solar power instead of dumping money into research. If China can make photovoltaic tech cheaper, more efficiently, and as good of quality, then America’s PV industry really needs to step up their game. Imposing tariffs simply hobbles the playing field.

Wait, did I just make an argument for free market capitalism?

Well, not really, because there’s another solution. And it’s certainly not the kind of free market capitalism most Republicans want, where the government steps in to put their thumbs on all sorts of scales in order to make money for cronies, rather than to preserve the human species. Since they’re okay with the government creating subsidies for big moneymakers like Big Oil, who already make hundreds of billions annually even without said subsidies, maybe those subsidies could simply be moved to the up-and-comers in renewable tech, to give the solar industry a kick in the pants so they might actually stand a chance to compete with China. Maybe even get a bit of nationalism into play like with the Cold War — show those dirty commies what for, and all that. The upshot is you might cure the planet of its oil addiction before we hurtle off the climate cliff.

2 comments

  1. 1
    Randomfactor

    Which is what the whole Solyndra thing was about…a bet which might have paid off but for shady dealings, maybe, by the Chinese.

  2. 2
    Daniel M.

    Let the free market work and we’ll get cheap solar technology. Let the governments subsidize it and I can guarantee everything they touch will go to sh**.

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