The renewable energy market is often riddled with obstacles for the consumer such as understanding new technologies, navigating though misleading advertising or even grasping the basics of a solar energy system. Considering all of the things the average homeowner must consider, the politics of the industry are seldom considered by the average Joe when buying. In 2005 the 30 percent tax credit (ITC) or Solar Investment Tax Credit was established. The thinking of lawmakers at the time was that it was an investment in the infrastructure of the country. The idea was to develop jobs in the high tech sector that were high paying. Bringing jobs in the manufacturing sector to support the economy reduce price of solar energy drive growth and build a clean and sustainable future.
During the same period as the owner of a wind and solar company Hurricane Wind Power. I was introduced to a term called dumping. I must admit that I had no idea what this was, what it meant, or why it was bad. As a green business owner in a green technology sometimes the learning curve is steep. As I learned the term “dumping” “is when manufacturers export a product to another country at a price either below the price charged in its home market or below its cost of production. The reason for this type of market practice is sometimes to increase market share in a foreign market or to drive out competition.
In 2011, in a series of Anti-dumping cases initiated by the company Solar World, the United States began imposing tariffs on solar imports from China and steep ones at that. The conflict has its roots in a flood of inexpensive Chinese solar products that pushed many American manufacturers out of business. Due to the practice of dumping we have seen many American companies simply put out of business with this practice. From this author perspective the conclusion that is logical is that ITC or Investment Tax Credit originally designed to stimulate the high tech manufacturing sector in the USA were actually spent funding Chinese Solar companies efforts to put American companies out of business. To their credit they have been successful as few US high tech solar manufacturers remain. As an insider I would like to point out that this loopholes have not been closed and regardless of what policies the US government has been put in place trade tariff fraud is rampant. Chinese panel manufacturers are sending shipments by the container through other countries to “cleanse” the Bill of Lading and providing false certificate of origins to unscrupulous importers present day.
As a business owner we understand the economics, the bottom line need to provide wholesale solar panels to customers at a great price but is beyond my comprehension how as a country we have seemed to have fallen asleep at the wheel. To be fair and balanced here we must outline the viewpoint of the other side of this conflict. It seems to be the case that some have made the argument that the trade tariffs will stall the solar market. Some believe the jobs as installers will slow down and view the tariffs which were simply put in place to put imports on a level playing field with domestically produced photo voltaic products as a negative thing. Others are quick to point out that the raw materials used in manufacturing the Chinese panels originate in the USA ultimately creating a negative impact on the American economy.
Considering all of these viewpoints and being said as a middle aged man the grandson of a World War II veteran, I ponder where the sense of pride and nationalism that was once existent in the USA. Are we at a juncture where we believe our future in high tech is isolated to bolting down products exported from a foreign land? Should we invest our tax dollars into programs which fund governments with policies which are tantamount to economic warfare? In conclusion it is simply this author’s intent to express dismay at what appears to be acceptance of a culture to grasp a fundamental understanding of the gravity and consequences of failure to compete in an area of high technology manufacturing. As history has shown repeatedly, this is the fundamental base of power of any nation.