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Solar Panel Trade War Heats Up 232

Hugh Pickens writes "Reuters reports that Chinese solar companies could soon find themselves bereft of some of their biggest foreign markets as Western manufacturers intensify a solar trade war and seek stiff anti-dumping duties on low-cost Chinese products. German group SolarWorld says it is working on steps to curb alleged price dumping by Chinese rivals in Europe as a group of seven U.S. solar companies urges the U.S. government to slap anti-dumping duties on Chinese-made solar energy products. Western solar companies have been at odds with their Chinese counterparts for years, alleging they receive lavish credit lines to offer modules at cheaper prices. 'American solar operations should be rapidly expanding to keep pace with the skyrocketing demand for these products,' says Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon whose office authored a whitepaper called 'China's Grab for Green Jobs.' (PDF) 'But that is not what has been happening. There seems to be one primary explanation for this; that is, that China is cheating.'"
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Solar Panel Trade War Heats Up

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:12AM (#37815524)

    And China was cheating no doubt with making cheap Reeboks and Nike's and stuff for US multinationals... Oh yeah, sorry, forgot. Those were US owned Multinationals getting all the profit then.

    I guess the difference between dumping and competing is whether you're ripping off the consumer and greedy multinational corporations are soaking up all those tax-free dollars or not.

    • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:25AM (#37815580) Homepage Journal
      Pretty much. Japan had very similar policies in the 60s and 70s, but didn't have any pressure placed on it until the 80s after Japan decided to cut the western CEOs out of the profit loop entirely and sell direct to consumers. When it was just regular people losing their jobs, politicians didn't do much other than pay some obligatory lip service. However, as soon as the CEOs started to get cut out of the loop, the ostensibly pro "free-trade" Republicans were more than willing to slap sanctions on Japan and put immense pressure on them to appreciate their currency.

      Now compare the situation with Japan in the 80s to modern-day China. While a lot of the trade restrictions and currency manipulations are the same, one major difference is that there are very, very few Chinese companies selling directly to western consumers. Off the top of my head I can think of 3 Chinese companies with any sort of real presence in the western market, Lenovo, Haier, and Huawei, and of those only Lenovo is anywhere near the top of their respective markets. However I can think of at least a dozen Japanese companies who do so, Sony, Nintendo, Toshiba, Hitachi, Fujitsu, Panasonic, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Sharp, and Olympus, and I'm missing a ton I'm sure.

      I think China has intentionally discouraged it's companies from selling directly to the west, at least in large numbers, specifically to prevent what happened to Japan from happening to them. They realize that in order to keep exporting massive amounts of goods to the US, they need to make sure the people who really call the shots, the executives, stay well-paid.....
      • ZTE. They now sell cellphones here in the US. They also sell other telecom equipment in China such as IPTV routers for home entertainment as well.

      • by Kagetsuki ( 1620613 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @09:40AM (#37816284)

        Well what Japan did was they basically reduced prices by absorbing a lot of the production costs through interest free loans, which were given through banks and in turn approved by the government. That's another way of saying the Japanese government gave money to companies to produce superior products and cheaper prices than their competitors could in a "fair" market. For example each roll of Fujifilm film was cheaper than Kodak yet the film grade was higher. Why do this? Well, Kodak almost went bankrupt and that would have left Fujifilm the only real film supplier in the world, with a trusted name and a global following of people who equate film to Fujifilm as tissues are to Kleenex. From that point the price would increase, but even rising up to the price Kodak was running at they would have close to 100% of the market so profits would have been guaranteed.

        Thing is Kodak complained, as did a lot of other companies that were being crushed, and then all the sudden the Japanese were doing something "unfair". Weather or not it's really unfair to do that is sort of a funny issue - the government is basically backing loans with tax money, making a bet that they can push their national industries into absolute and controlling positions in the global market and thusly gaining a greater sum economic return. That's pretty risky and pretty dynamic, but had foreign governments not stepped in a bitched about it it would have worked and nobody would remember the companies Kodak et.all ever existed.

        China on the other hand is doing something a bit different. In the case of solar panels for example they are restricting exports of vital production materials while washing the prices down for national producers. They may well be able to pull it off as well - even if global governments bitch and scream and make up new rules China still has a lot of options on the table to drive down prices and their economy is so massive and so based on nonsense bullshit, not to mention they're not afraid of turning the rich among their population into dirt farmers, that they will make any move they feel necessary with little hesitation.

        • It's actually not all that different. Thing is although Japanese companies could never be described as being "transparent", Chinese companies are infinitely more opaque. A lot of the companies in the "strategic industries" such as solar power are either state owned or act as simple front ends for the state owned companies. These companies can absorb huge losses without really having to report anything because the state absorbs their losses(and China's government finances may be a real mess, again we know
    • by Ixne ( 599904 )
      It seems as if you're not taking into account the subsidization by the Chinese government that takes place so that Chinese products almost always undercut domestic-made products in price, driving domestic companies out of business. It's one thing to "compete" on product quality; it's another to simply flood the market with subsidized waste.
      • by chrb ( 1083577 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @09:30AM (#37816134)

        The Chinese government actually subsidizes very few industries - unless you count pegging the currency against the dollar, which is another issue. The real reason Chinese goods are cheaper is that the average Chinese factory worker gets paid about $200 a week for around 100 hours of work. That's $0.50 an hour. That kind of price advantage is enough to ensure dominance in most fields of manufacturing.

        There is also an important reason why China wants to promote the solar industry - the sustainable energy industry is of strategic importance to the Chinese. By 2015, 70% of China's oil imports will come from the Middle East oil - a region where U.S. interests have historically been dominant and where China has had no long-standing strategic interests. Simply put, the Chinese want to avoid becoming overly reliant on oil supplies from governments that are allied with the U.S..

        This article [hotair.com] makes an obvious point regarding government subsidies: "China floated $30 billion in subsidies to its solar sector? Wow, that’s so totally unfair. Why, the US would never stand for such a thing! That’s why Obama included almost $40 billion in green-sector subsidies as part of his 2009 Porkulus package, of which $17 billion has already been spent. And let’s not forget that over a half-billion dollars of that money got spent specifically on Solyndra alone." So, subsidies are okay when the U.S. does it, but bad when China does it?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          It's really not just the labor. It's a combination of a lot of things where Chinese companies have an advantage.

          * Low interest loans
          * Direct Subsidies
          * Limiting exports (and high export duties) of raw materials, giving an advantage to anyone (local or MNC) who locates a factory in China rather than elsewhere
          * Lax IP law enforcement - enabling companies to keep their R&D budget low - copying is cheap
          * Free land and infrastructure
          * Minimal enforcement of environmental regulations
          * Minimal enforcement of

    • And are only just starting after 40 years to wake up to the fact that the enemy is over here not there, and usually has the title "leader".

      http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/contrib.php?cid=N00009638 [opensecrets.org]

      Guess that 1 million has been paid back several hundred thousand times.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24, 2011 @09:20AM (#37816046)

        On May 2nd, 1933, the day after Labor day, Nazi groups occupied union halls and labor leaders were arrested. Trade Unions were outlawed by Adolf Hitler, while collective bargaining and the right to strike was abolished.

        Lenin, at the behest of Stalin and Trotsky, banned trade unions in favor of "total government union." Stalin followed this up by increasingly draconian laws that docked a worker 25% of a day's pay for being a mere 20 minutes late to work, and imposed prison sentences for anyone who attempted to quit their assigned job. [cyberussr.com]

        Chairman Mao eliminated trade unions, in a move very reminiscent of Stalin. More recently, China created the "All China Federation of Trade Unions", a front organization whose primary purpose is to serve as an enforcement arm of the Chinese Communist Party. No actual trade unions or labor bargaining are allowed to exist.

        In 2011, in multiple states in the US, the Republican Party... abolished unions.

        • by Moryath ( 553296 )

          Well stated. Wish I had the modpoints, I'd give you one.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by BlueStrat ( 756137 )

          In 2011, in multiple states in the US, the Republican Party... abolished unions.


          Unions for government workers had many of their bargaining rights restricted or eliminated. Not private sector Unions.

          Public sector (government employee) Unions are an abomination. Their purpose is not to share in profits, as government makes no profits. It's to grab all the tax money they can and influence lawmakers to pass laws to increase their power.

          The government employee Unions "negotiate" for higher wages & benefits, paid for by taxpayers, not the profits of a private business, with one pol

          • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

            What, did some teacher run over your dog on the way to a union meeting when you were five?

            People like you are the reason we have unions in the first place. Unneeded in the public sector? Because postal workers should roll over and accept 100,000+ in job cuts to cover a fiscal hole created by Congress, when they mandated that the Post Office fully fund pensions for the next 75 years - meaning people who haven't even been born yet? PATCO - one of their main goals of the strike was to get a shorter work wee

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by TheSync ( 5291 )

            "Public sector (government employee) Unions are an abomination."

            And in the words of Steve Jobs [pcworld.com]:

            "what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way. This unionization and lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is off-the-charts crazy."

            "What kind of person could you get to run a small business if you told them that when they came in, they couldn't get rid of people that they thought weren't any good? Not really great ones, because if you're really smart, y

    • When the government is subsidizing your industry, that is most definitely cheating. But, don't ask any American business involved in the military/industrial complex. They'll most certainly call me a liar!

      Oh - wait - did I just make a point that BOTH sides cheat? Oh my, how terrible! Or, not really. I've said it many times. Corporate America sucks! It's just that China sucks a little harder, in some cases.

  • by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:18AM (#37815544)

    We are all producers and consumers. As producers we want our products to be rare and expensive. As consumers we want our products to be plentiful and cheap. You have to decide what type of world you want to live in. One that has plenty of inexpensive things or a few expensive things. I'll take cheap and plentiful.

    Let's say the Chinese decided that the US was too dependent on foreign oil and as a buddy they wanted to supply us with free solar panels. As much as they could make. Would this be a good thing or bad thing? For consumers it would be great but for producers of solar panels it would be terrible. To have progress as a society you have to let consumers rule.

    • It's not about what's good for the consumer, it's about what's good for non-Chinese economies. China did the same thing with rare earths – undercut all competitors and eventually produce more than 90% of the world's rare earth supply. Then they used that to control prices and where the refining and production takes place (hint: not anywhere overseas). They basically control the high-tech economy and wind turbine production (which need rare earth magnets). Who wants that for soloar panels too?
    • by poity ( 465672 )

      You didn't RTFA I presume. The article doesn't talk about competition, it warns about dumping, i.e. saturating the market with far lower than market-priced products so as to inhibit or destroy competition. You may like the cheap prices now, but the ultimate result is that one or very few companies will control the market in the future if this is allowed.

      • Dumping is what you call it when your competitor is much cheaper than you.

        My post stands. Either you side with the consumer and let China sell cheap PV panels or you side with US producers and use protectionist methods to help the producers at the expense of the consumer.

        • by poity ( 465672 )

          So you would have supported the Standard Oil monopoly of early 20th century USA? They sold oil at far below market price, people liked it, but the result was that it forced competitors out of the market, after which they would raise prices to capitalize on near total control. You would trade short term consumer benefit for long term exploitation?

          • Here is the problem with your theory. You make the claim they can drop prices to eliminate all competitors. Now they raise prices and make obscene profits. Obscene profits are good because they are a signal to investors there is an opportunity somewhere. So now competitors start drilling and selling their own oil thereby reducing prices.

            • by Kopiok ( 898028 )
              Here's the problem with your theory. Even if you can make your way onto the market, the monopoly institution lowers prices again to below the market price you can afford, drives you out of business, then raises the prices again. Once they raise their prices, they're not fixed.
    • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @11:56AM (#37819016) Homepage

      Urgh. Physics is not Economic's bitch. China are burning oil to make inefficient PV panels that will never generate the energy required to produce them - factor in the mining, refining, shipping, installation and maintenance, and if you discount the energy required to keep the people involved in that process alive, well, enjoy your cold damp cave.

      Now, when you then hide that sad situation by subsiding the panels, who are you helping? Future generations won't thank you when they end up with a planet covered by worn out PV panels that don't generate enough energy to manufacture their replacements.

      Trusting consumers isn't always the solution - given a free hand, they'll swill down snake oil until their eyeballs explode.

  • I thought "the invisible hand of the market" was supposed to make things work. How does "cheating" occur? Can somebody explain to me what "cheating" means in this context?

    Isn't this an element of the free market (if one supplier decides it is worth subsidising their product to build market share, or pay its workers less)? Or does the "free market" assume no government intervention - which I can't see ever being the case, there have been "governments" as long as there have been markets, at least for the last

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by vlm ( 69642 )

      How does "cheating" occur? Can somebody explain to me what "cheating" means in this context?

      There is no free market, don't be confused by thinking about it. Its simply not relevant.

      The Chinese government hands cash to their panel manufacturers to lower their prices so they can put our manufacturers out of business. Then they have two options, they can go the "home appliance route" and make money bu cutting quality so we have to replace our panels every two years, just like Chinese dish washing machines. We'll buy replacements for our broken panels a couple times because it must just be bad luck

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The Chinese government hands cash to their panel manufacturers

        Right. Let me stop you there because you have no idea what you are talking about. The majority of funding in China is through the CDB loan financing. Now explain please, how Chinese CDB loan guarantees any different than US DOE guarantees (e.g. Solandra, First Solar, SunPower) except the magnitude? They aren't different. Not to mention that about 90% of CDB loan guarantees have not been used yet because they are explicitly for projects financing

      • The thing you are missing is all things are relative. Pollution may be bad but compared to what? Dangerous factories may be bad but compared to what?

        When an economy is purely agricultural it is very dangerous. There are plenty of things for farmers to die from and the working conditions are outside in all weather. Compared to that a sweatshop is much nicer. You have a roof and a stool. And if you are lucky the product needs to be build in a climate controlled factory and you get to enjoy that too.

        Same for p

      • by chrb ( 1083577 )

        The Chinese government hands cash to their panel manufacturers to lower their prices so they can put our manufacturers out of business.

        The Chinese government wants to encourage domestic use of cheap, renewable energy because they have no long-standing strategic interests in the Middle East but will soon be importing 70% of their oil from countries that are allied to the U.S. That is just one reason, in addition to all of the usual reasons that reliance on foreign oil is a problem.

      • "The Chinese government hands cash to their panel manufacturers to lower their prices so they can put our manufacturers out of business. "

        The US should do the same thing. Business is war.

      • I'm just clarifying that the only reason we allow it is the US is a profoundly racist country.

        Of course! Obviously it's because they're dirty yellow slant-eyed chinks! There is absolutely no fucking way that we're just lazy, selfish bastards who, acting in our own greedy self-interest, have decided that we want the benefits of cheap goods without the negatives of polluted air and water. Nope, if they were white we'd live with the more expensive goods and be happy for it. We're only letting them poiso

      • Shouldn't China regard its own citizens as human beings? Who cares what you think the USA thinks about China? Is it the USA's job to regulate the environment in China? I'd think that China would be interested in China's environment. Likewise I would expect China to regard its citizens as human beings. If China creates cheaper products by killing its own, is that really a cost-effective way to conduct longterm business?

        The world sees only the pricetag and the product.

    • by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:45AM (#37815740)


      - Governmental currency manipulation which is pretty much a certainty [outsidethebeltway.com].

      - "Product Dumping [economyincrisis.org]", e.g. selling a product at below production cost [indiatimes.com] (either by simply eating the loss or cutting corners and dumping an inferior, unsafe product) [nytimes.com] so as to drive competitors out of the market [pbs.org] and then price-gouge once you're the only supplier (already seen in some markets where China did, in fact, run US companies out of business)

      - Rampant theft of intellectual property - we're not just talking Napster-grade "file sharing" here, we are talking about [economyincrisis.org] rampant spying and thievery of patented products and designs [theepochtimes.com]. As the last article I link shows, it's not just the US getting burned by the Chinese - this is a major point of concern in the EU as well.

      Are you getting some form of a clue now?

      • by bored ( 40072 )

        And people who pay attention to history, understand that is how the US got there too. I remember as a school child learning about Francis Cabot Lowell [google.com]Who "borrowed" the technology to build a power loom in the US and thereby allowing (with the cotton gin/etc) the US to become an exporter of textiles rather than cotton.

      • Are you getting some form of a clue now?

        Nope. Cutting corners gets caught pretty quickly and usually backfires. Selling at a loss is an expensive and risky proposition. Theft of intellectual property can be handled by the courts. Currency manipulation if a ficticious boogeyman. It doesn't work for the same reason that perpetual motion machines don't work.

        Ultimately, this is a case of China has cheap labor, lax environmental regulations, and produce an inferior, but "good enough" product that is cheaper

    • by Surt ( 22457 )

      Free markets aren't considered free where governments intervene. In this case, the intervening government is China, which is exercising their tax power to take from most industries, and give to solar. If the Chinese solar industry didn't have subsidies, the US solar industry would have no free market cause for complaint.

      • Thanks for your measured response. So my naive response would be: are there ever any examples of large scale free markets? Surely at any level of international trade, there are government rules to be followed, and national political agendas to be negotiated with, so there is no such thing as a free market, nor has there ever been? All the way through recorded history local and national authorities have influenced trade either informally or formally, whether through tax breaks and surcharges for different pa

        • by Surt ( 22457 )

          No, there aren't any truly free markets, by definition it's fundamentally impossible for one to exist in a governed location, and there are no ungoverned locations in the world.

          But there are markets operating closer and further from free principles. The solar market is in a particularly egregiously un-free spot right now. It might well be the least-free market in existence at the moment, such is the size of the Chinese government investment.

        • It should be noted that anti-dumping laws are abused to an insane extent. Organizations in the U.S. which benefit from them obviously hold much greater political power than their Chinese rivals, and are able to manipulate the system to shut down competition. Simply producing for less than the U.S. cost of manufacture has been successfully used as an argument to put "anti-dumping" regulations in place.

    • I thought "the invisible hand of the market" was supposed to make things work.

      Except it's well known (at least among economists) that markets do not in fact work correctly all the time. If I start a landfill on my property, that presents an economic cost to my neighbors even though my neighbors weren't part of the deal. Or if the point of buying the product is to show off how rich I am, then instead of lower prices yielding more sales, higher prices yield more sales. Or if my factory emits lots of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, and your kid catches asthma because of it, that's

    • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

      In Europe markets are regulated to ensure fair competition. It's not a free market system but a neoliberal one.

    • I might be naive, and please educate me here, but I would have assumed this behaviour is part of markets and how they work, rather than external to markets (therefore considered not playing the game properly). Hence not cheating, but just part of what happens?

      The "cheating" part comes in when and if government (aka the guys with tanks) take a direct hand making their own companies/industries successful. "The rules" assume that companies are mostly working with their own resources (or with resources that they pay for; market interest on loans, etc.) and that they have to show a profit or at least break even. There is also an assumption that companies exist in a balanced regulatory environment (IE poisoning the downstream villages should at least officially be f

    • Or does the "free market" assume no government intervention - which I can't see ever being the case, there have been "governments" as long as there have been markets,

      Western opinion has come to view excessive participation in corporations by government or government by corporations as being bad/corrupt. The line is gray and blurry and everyone cheats a bit... The Chinese government cheats more than most and in this case may have clearly stepped over the blurry line.

      Since corporations that lack such direct assistance are at a disadvantage, they ask for help form their governments. Western governments don't want to (be seen to) give direct aid to corporations (looks li

  • Price dumping is selling stuff below the price it took to manufacture. But that's not the case. The price is that low - though only because the Chinese are not capturing and recycling their toxic waste and dump it into the environment instead.

    The higher price in Europe is not down to "excessive" environmental regulation, but a matter of basic environmental protection. Of course, this doesn't stop European greenies from feeling smug for having Chinese solar cells on their roofs - so long as the pollution is
    • Sounds a great slogan:

      Keep Europe beautiful- dump your toxins in China.

      I think that could take off...

      • by tp1024 ( 2409684 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:41AM (#37815710)
        This is basically what is going on and not just in solar cells but also in rare earth minerals. Similar problem. Low concentrations demand leaching with rather aggressive and toxic chemicals, that are expensive to capture and recycle. Importing them from China in the name of Free Markets has no different result as producing them in the USA and dumping the waste on China.

        The whole "buy Chinese stuff and blame them for their CO2 emissions" business is yet another example.
    • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:38AM (#37815692) Homepage

      It's not entirely about the environmental regulations. In addition to toxic waste spewing all over their country, Chinese workers don't have the kind of labor protections that European and even US workers currently have, like protection from unpaid overtime, workplace safety laws so they don't get killed on the job, minimum wages, collective bargaining rights, child labor laws, etc.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The US government gave, what $500 million dollars to Solyndra to produce solar panels.
    why is it different when the Chinese government subsidises solar panel companies?

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Wait what, this is the only double standard you can see in American policy?
    • Because the Chinese companies actually MAKE solar panels. Ours are just front companies to enrich CEO's.

    • by jbengt ( 874751 )
      The US did not give money to Solyndra. They gave a loan guarantee.
      • Actually with a loan guarantee Solyndra was able to use the guarantee as collateral to get loans. Once they got those loans they went bankrupt thus leaving the US on the hook for the loans. You are correct in that the US government didn't directly give money to Solyndra, but what they did was assume all of the risk and assumed none of the potential reward. Sounds like what people complained about during the start of the crash, socialized losses privatized profits.
    • by poity ( 465672 )

      One difference is that Solyndra received start-up loan guarantees, whereas the established manufacturers in China receive subsidies like tax rebates. The former is government saying, "if your business fails, we'll make it less painful", the latter is the government saying, "even when you have succeeded, we'll still help you against your competition"

  • Pretty straightforward. Let's buy all the Chinese PV manufactured in 2012 *and* all tUSA PV manufactured in 2012. Do that, and, we'll:
    * support tUSA businesses by buying their PV
    * get a whole bunch of additional PV at firesale prices, helping consumers lock in to lower long term energy prices, helping utilities comply with upcoming EPA policies, helping clean our air and water by reducing the amount of coal and natural gas we burn for electricity, and BTW creating bunches of jobs selling,

    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      Your solutions assume a perfectly liquid and instantaneous market, which China much more closely approximates than us.

      Our reaction speed is slower than theirs, therefore in the long run they'll always come out on top.

    • P.S. This is slashdot, so nuclear has to work its way into the conversation.

      Thanks for bringing nuclear energy into the discussion, but how will this all affect my bitcoins?

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:48AM (#37815760)

    1. Outsource 90% of manufacturing to China

    2. Start a trade war with China

    3. ???

    4. Profit?

    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      3. Eliminate 90% of consumer demand thru unemployment, underemployment, credit/financial system implosion, economic bubbles in locally provided services like education and health care. Getting rid of our consumers will balance the lack of Chinese consumer goods. We're on track so far...

      • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
        Except you're not thinking globally. OK, get rid of American consumers. And replace them with Latin American or European (or even Indian) consumers. China will sell to anyone, they're not picky. But I wouldn't want to live in America when that happens. To some extent it's happening now. You should see how Latin America has boomed in the last 20 years - it's not all narco-dollars.
      • We're on track so far...

        We're on a Maglev track pulled by nuclear powered rocket going down hill towards a pool of magma carrying backpacks filled with TNT so far...


  • Unlike the maze of bullshit that is the US financial system, the Chinese appear to be engaging in actual beneficial capitalism. Instead of subsidizing banks and petro-warfare, their government subsidizes the manufacture of distributed, individual-scale, liberating technologies that are mostly produced for export, benefiting consumers in the US and around the world. Look at what the Chinese produce: affordable solar energy, small-scale agricultural equipment, bicycles. Compare that to what the US produce

  • The companies start whining for daddy gubment to fix the game for them.

    The biggest problem is that a LOT of china solar panels are the thin film crap that will not last more than 5 years and loses 1/2 it's output within 2 years. But there are killer prices for monocrystaline panels that will last you 50 years that makes the greedy US companies whine.

    The repubs who CLAIM they are for Capitolisim and small government will back a bill to stop affordable solar from flowing in from china.

  • American companies that are used to charging ridiculous prices for solar equipment are upset that someone else is starting to produce the items cheaper and thus out-compete them, so they want the government to step in and protect them.

  • I don't know about photovoltaic, but with evacuated-tube solar collectors, the cheap ones from china are basic the lowest-quality most inefficient ones in the world, by a wide margin. (China also makes some of the best, but those are priced accordingly.)

  • It's ok for the U.S. to cheat on corn, but not for China to cheat on Solar Panels. When did our country become such a fuckin pansy? Let's grow back our balls and compete with whatever the world throws at us. I'm fuckin up for it, are you?

  • China has a massive advantage, cheap labor. Even though more of China's population has jobs, wages have not changed and there is still a very large number of people it can add to the work force. As long as China can keep wages low they will not become sufficient enough consumers to benefit trade partners. The WTO needs to agree on minimum wages. Without developing consumers, China will continue to absorb the wold economy without any benefit to world trade.

Information is the inverse of entropy.