Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to Politico author Emily Holden, President Trump may be on the verge of erecting trade barriers against cheap imports of Chinese solar panels, to support strategic development of domestic US solar manufacturing.
U.S. setting stage for solar trade war with China
The White House is preparing to argue that trade barriers are needed to foster solar manufacturing inside the United States.
By EMILY HOLDEN 12/15/2017
An unreleased White House document offers the strongest hint yet that the Trump administration is laying the groundwork for punitive tariffs on Chinese-made solar power equipment — a step that would promote the president’s “America First” trade agenda while sharply increasing the costs of solar power in the U.S.
The prospect of such tariffs, which President Donald Trump could announce in January, has deeply alarmed the U.S. solar installation industry. It warns that it could lose tens of thousands of jobs if the cost of solar spikes, slowing the booming growth that sun-powered energy enjoyed during the Obama administration.
But the White House is preparing to argue that trade barriers are needed to foster solar manufacturing inside the United States, something it calls important to both national security and the economy, according to a document draft obtained by POLITICO. The paper argues that cheap solar imports allow China to unfairly profit from Americans’ use of renewable power and gain influence in the developing world’s energy infrastructure.
Suniva, which is majority owned by a Chinese investor and is in bankruptcy, and SolarWorld, whose German parent in also in bankruptcy, say the flood of solar cells and panels from factories across Asia that are owned by Chinese companies has driven prices too low for them to compete.
Suniva spokesman Mark Paustenbach welcomed the White House’s approach.
“Suniva applauds the Trump Administration for championing American manufacturing in the face of cheating by China and its proxies who want to kill American jobs and make America dependent on China for its energy and security needs,” he said in a statement Friday.
This is not the first time WUWT has reported on this ongoing farce.
As far as I can tell, President Trump is being asked to decide who wins what amounts to a proxy war between different Chinese investors – or maybe the same Chinese investors playing both sides, its difficult to tell.
If President Trump supports US domestic solar manufacturing, manufacturing jobs will be stimulated but prices will rise, which will likely cause a drop-off in solar installation work.
IF President Trump allows cheap Chinese imports to continue, already bankrupt US solar manufacturers will be obliterated, but installation jobs will benefit.
There is a question nobody seems to be asking. Why are the Chinese so easily able to undercut US solar manufacturers? Are the Chinese simply better at manufacturing solar panels, or is there some hidden difficulty such as higher electricity costs which is making it impossible for US solar manufacturers to compete?
Perhaps the real solution is to identify and fix the problem which is preventing US based manufacturers from competing.