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US Firm Escalates Solar Trade War with China


A bankruptcy trustee for a now-defunct American solar panel producer is suing three Chinese firms for nearly $1 billion, accusing them of illegally dumping their products on the US market and driving the company out of business. The WSJ reports:

The foreign manufacturers “conspired to export more than 95% of their production, dump their products in the United States at artificially low prices, and achieve market domination,” said Mr. Madden in a lawsuit suit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

The civil lawsuit is the latest blast in the escalating trade war involving solar technology between China and the U.S.

The global solar industry is in shambles. Consumers can find Chinese panels for relatively cheap (though of questionable quality), but every step of the production chain is being propped up by government subsidies. American panel makers are folding, but so too are Chinese manufacturers, and Beijing’s central planners won’t be able to keep them afloat forever.

All of the money that has funded this race to the bottom could have gone toward  research and development for more efficient panels, or toward refining and streamlining the production process. Instead, governments, eager to act for political and other reasons as first movers in the green energy market, have overextended a technology that can’t yet compete with fossil fuels.

That overeagerness carries an opportunity cost. Green idealism has set green energy back.

[Broken solar panel image courtesy of Getty Images]

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  • katewerk

    The failure of solar isn’t a problem of inefficiency in panel design. It’s a problem of physics and energy density.

    Creating more efficient solar panels is the engineering equivalent of solving a water shortage by building a better bucket.

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