WaPo: US Solar Industry Is Much More Afraid Of China Than Of Trump


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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement isn’t nearly as much of a problem for the U.S. solar industry as Chinese trade practices, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Stiff competition from heavily subsidized Chinese-made solar panels is hurting U.S. solar panel makers. When compared to this issue, WaPo says that Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is “seen as a lesser problem” by the industry.

“The majority of projects are economic- and not policy-driven at this point, so as the prices have gone down, installations have gone up,” Abigail Ross Hopper, the president and chief executive of Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), told WaPo. “I think that has more to do with tax policy than who was in the White House.”

WaPo notes that U.S. solar companies installed 2 gigawatts of new solar capacity, according to a Thursday report by SEIA.

The April bankruptcy of the solar company Suniva has largely been blamed on Chinese competition, not a lack of taxpayer support. Suniva received about $20 million in support from federal and state taxpayers and a federal tax credit worth $5.7 million as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The U.S. International Trade Commission agreed to take up Suniva’s case that Chinese solar subsidies were an attempt to circumvent U.S. tariffs by shifting production to factories in other countries.

China is out-competing U.S. solar companies because it offers heavy subsidies in addition to a low-wage workforce. The country spent more than $80 billion on green energy in 2014 alone, while the US spent $34 billion, according to the International Energy Agency.

Solar power currently provides 0.9 percent of all electricity generated in the U.S., according to the federal Energy Information Administration.

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