Solar City: Made in China
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Is there anyplace in the world where solar power exists without subsidies?
Short answer: No.
While it may seem like the U.S. should be a leader in solar energy after spending so much taxpayer money to get there, in reality the market for solar technology is global. Countries like China and Germany have heavily invested in building their own solar industries. The state plays a much larger role in their economies, so massive government investments aren’t all that controversial.
But one person’s investment is another’s unfair subsidy. Germany’s policy has led to controversy within the EU and among industrial users of electrical power. U.S. solar companies, such as the now-defunct Solyndra, have long complained that competing against their more heavily-subsidized foreign counterparts puts them at a huge disadvantage in developing or manufacturing new technologies.
But one solar energy company that plays a growing role in meeting Arizona’s electricity needs is taking a different approach. Solar City is attempting to save money on construction of its solar panels by purchasing components from several Chinese companies, including Yingli Solar and Trina.
“Yeah, but everything is Made in China these days, why does it matter where solar panels are manufactured?” you might say. But solar energy is heavily subsidized by the U.S. government. Solar City is using U.S. tax dollars to buy solar panels from foreign companies instead of buying from American companies.
Worse, the companies that Solar City is doing business with are effectively arms of the Chinese government due to the heavy hand the regime has over utilities in the People’s Republic. Yingli Solar and Trina are the kind of companies that exist in part to implement the Chinese government’s wide-ranging plans for society. One of those plans happens to be shifting a certain amount of electrical power generation to solar energy.
Our government has a similar plan. President Obama promised green jobs as part of his jobs and energy agendas. Where are the high-quality manufacturing jobs that were supposed to be created as part of the green economy? Thanks to companies like Solar City, they’re in China.