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The spate of recent bankruptcies in the U.S. solar power industry has left China as the dominant...

The spate of recent bankruptcies in the U.S. solar power industry has left China as the dominant player in green energy. With over 60% of the world’s solar production capacity and huge economies of scale, GTM Research notes that “pricing is determined by where they price, and everyone else prices at a premium or discount to them.”
Comments (19)
  • The Geoffster
    , contributor
    Comments (4011) | Send Message
     
    Obama's new jobs program will revitalize the American solar power industry for 18 months at a cost of just $400,000 a job.
    1 Sep 2011, 07:39 PM Reply Like
  • Zeon
    , contributor
    Comments (107) | Send Message
     
    Why shouldn't the government subsidize nascent future-oriented businesses that are in life or death struggles with subsidized foreign competition. How else to make a fair fight with China? They screw us on currency and the screw us on intellectual property. The alternative is to lose and eventually quit.
    1 Sep 2011, 08:04 PM Reply Like
  • JohnBinTN
    , contributor
    Comments (3620) | Send Message
     
    No, we should raise the price of our wheat. Solar has only one price in the U.S. - too expensive to be viable.
    1 Sep 2011, 08:11 PM Reply Like
  • Bouchart
    , contributor
    Comments (759) | Send Message
     
    Am I now supposed to believe that all of China's businesses produce inferior, poorly made, even hazardous products, except for solar panels?
    1 Sep 2011, 08:12 PM Reply Like
  • Machiavelli999
    , contributor
    Comments (829) | Send Message
     
    If TVs are manufactured in China, then why wouldn't solar panels? Solar panels are far simpler of a technology then TVs.

     

    And if China wants to waste their money and subsidize solar panels, I say let them. We don't have to do stupid things because China is doing them. Remember on a per capita basis they are a still poorer country than Mexico. Their advantage is that they have a ton of people and hence a ton of cheap labor.
    1 Sep 2011, 08:19 PM Reply Like
  • enigmaman
    , contributor
    Comments (2686) | Send Message
     
    to counter the Chinese dominance in the solar energy industry Solyndra Inc., a maker of solar panels received a $535 million U.S. loan guarantee, was visited and touted by both Pres Obama and V Pres Biden as the next great step in our future, with clean green high paying jobs.

     

    Update: Solyndra has shut its does, declaring chapter 11 bankruptcy and shipping its manufacturing to China
    1 Sep 2011, 08:43 PM Reply Like
  • Tack
    , contributor
    Comments (12962) | Send Message
     
    enig:

     

    Wouldn't you just love to get an audit on that $535MM?
    1 Sep 2011, 08:45 PM Reply Like
  • realitybiter
    , contributor
    Comments (219) | Send Message
     
    and how much VC capital got funneled there because of the risk-free perception from the loan guarantee? VC capital that could have gone to good ideas.

     

    Thanks, BO, DOE, and the rest of you political hacks. You don't know jack and you should get out of technology biz.
    1 Sep 2011, 10:31 PM Reply Like
  • Dr. Poly
    , contributor
    Comments (362) | Send Message
     
    Inside info says that $5MM was wasted on workers while the other $530MM was used wisely on bonuses for management.
    1 Sep 2011, 11:57 PM Reply Like
  • JeffLeach1986
    , contributor
    Comments (229) | Send Message
     
    The problem is that the business model is flawed. China through cheap labor, lack of environmental stewardship, and abysmal working conditions can manufacture much cheaper solar panels that US manufacturing cannot compete with.

     

    This flaw is also why most large scale manufacturing has moved offshore from the US. Until this issue is dealt with, you can kiss off any manufacturing in the US.
    1 Sep 2011, 11:02 PM Reply Like
  • enigmaman
    , contributor
    Comments (2686) | Send Message
     
    jeff what you describe concerning the business model is exactly how all third world countries start out and grow into leading industrialized countries like the USA, China is only following our historical lead, we were there, done that

     

    US manufacturing can never be what it was no matter what we do, time to move on to bigger and better things, whatever it may be will not be where the government is forcing business to go, the tail should never wag the dog
    2 Sep 2011, 08:27 AM Reply Like
  • JeffLeach1986
    , contributor
    Comments (229) | Send Message
     
    "US manufacturing can never be what it was no matter what we do, time to move on to bigger and better things"

     

    I have heard of this " bigger and better things" before. Just haven't found anyone that can define what it is.

     

    The jobs that we have lost are manufacturing. Millions of them all over the US. We need those blue collar jobs back in the US. Under the existing free trade rules and the regulatory environment here in the US, they will not return. Not everyone in the US can be an engineer designing products that are manufactured in China and elsewhere.
    2 Sep 2011, 09:13 AM Reply Like
  • Tack
    , contributor
    Comments (12962) | Send Message
     
    Jeff:

     

    They won't and can't return. One cannot artificially build a tariff wall and make products at $20/hr that other places can make for $2/hr. The effect of any such attempt would be a massive forced misallocation of resources, as the U.S. would be able to export nothing, and consumers would have to see their money "redistributed" to $20/hr workers, who were creating $2/hr products.

     

    In essence, it would be an unmitigated disaster.
    2 Sep 2011, 09:19 AM Reply Like
  • JeffLeach1986
    , contributor
    Comments (229) | Send Message
     
    Tack,

     

    Our government imposes a lot of artificial barriers to manufacturing in the US. They require our manufacturing facilities to go through some extreme and costly measures to ensure that they provide a pristine environment. But then they allow products to be sold in our stores that are made producing some of the worst toxic pollution on the planet.

     

    Perhaps the government needs to back off on some of these regulations that are so costly. How about starting with the energy sector and allow drilling in remote places such as ANWR? Our government's extremist fixation of being green has cost the US substantial jobs.
    2 Sep 2011, 09:50 AM Reply Like
  • Tack
    , contributor
    Comments (12962) | Send Message
     
    Jeff:

     

    Ahh, a different, enlightened approach, but hardly one to be embraced by our increasingly socialistic, anti-business administrations and bureaucracy. Unless the voters get educated (not by our leftwing public schools, either) and radically change their behavior, we'll move ever closer to the old Soviet model.
    2 Sep 2011, 10:03 AM Reply Like
  • Kristian
    , contributor
    Comments (48) | Send Message
     
    American consumers must be educated in the fact that they are exporting their own jobs, eliminating future industry growth and assuring their own loss of employment and benefits when they buy cheap products manufactured at subsistence wages in third world countries.

     

    I strongly disagree with those who claim we must sit by and suffer harm from low cost/ low quality importers who often engage in dumping to ruin domestic manufacturing businesses, then raise the prices once they have the market. Japanese manufacturers did this in the consumer electronics manufacturing industry in the 1980's with the help of huge Japanese government subsidies which drove many outstanding high quality American manufacturers out of business.

     

    Trading can be seen as a war between 'peaceful enemies' just as much when the playing field is level, as when it is not. And it is not unlike a war of actual combat. The self preservation of the country and the survival of its citizens is at stake and national efforts may have to be expended. In the age of Getty Oil the US didn't shrink from dealing in a very direct way with the oil and railroad magnates that posed a threat to smaller diversified firms that were being put out of business on similar basis.

     

    At present enforcement of our IP and copyrights is abysmal with few strict penalties levied on countries that have permissively allowed infringement of US trademarks, copyrights and patents.

     

    By setting full and partial import tariffs on key products and by educating people -- and that is what it requires -- a first world country can achieve competitive cost parity with high quality in a reasonable time in key manufacturing sectors suffering from trade imbalances due to wage disparities.

     

    The problem must be addressed also through education - cheap exports carry a hidden price. This means all the components of a price must be understood -- not vaguely but in detail by the customer -- so that the customer shops not by apparent price alone but by actual costs payed at checkout and the often larger collective installment that will come due later.

     

    A compelling case with all the steps needed...
    www.amazon.com/Free-Tr...
    4 Sep 2011, 02:00 AM Reply Like
  • JeffLeach1986
    , contributor
    Comments (229) | Send Message
     
    Tack,

     

    Too much political gridlock right now for their to be a political resolve to deal with the problem. The course we are on is of course dysfunctional. Political resolve will not coalesce until things are much more economically grim.

     

    The results of this new direction are what may have grave consequences.
    2 Sep 2011, 10:55 AM Reply Like
  • calmanity
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    Who are we that we cannot compete with a third world country like China? Apparently, the level of incompetency in American business has reached epic proportions these days...case in point follows...

     

    Indeed, China has very cheap labor at $1.00/hr and they have no restrictions on dumping whatever they feel like into their environment, which is also why US electronic companies have their products made there and why the Chinese keep our intellectual property as a portion of the fee for their trashy services.

     

    In the case of solar PV panels with current levels of innovation in the US for automation in their manufacture, the cost of labor could be less than $1.00/hr and more efficient, which also provisions the ability to control hazardous waste products and build these panels at lower cost than the Chinese. Finally, the finished products can be shipped to LOCAL markets for less than it costs to ship them from China and then sold or leased to Americans at very affordable rates and installed with the same labor that would install panels from China.

     

    Therefore, the only difference in costs between China and the US PV business is what companies pay in business taxes, which are now lower in the US due to the need for clean energy. Therefore, a premium price could easily be added to panels made in the USA due to their higher quality materials and workmanship that good manufacturing regulations provide to protect consumers, which is certainly not the case with the cheap stuff made in China with "god knows what" put in their panels to keep costs down and profits high.

     

    The fact of the matter is that there are simply too many people still looking for easy money in clean energy, which has never been the case, and will not be until business learns how to take advantage of what good ol' American ingenuity can provide them.

     

    If Solyndra sells off its patents to China, that will be good for the US since CIGS technology is too inefficient to be meaningful in actual use and will likely become obsolete within the next three years. PolySi is still the best material for solar PVs and as soon as BIG OIL/ENERGY allows its proliferation, we will all be much better off as a country, economy and civilization...this is the heart of the matter above all else...
    30 Sep 2011, 07:32 AM Reply Like
  • JeffLeach1986
    , contributor
    Comments (229) | Send Message
     
    "In the case of solar PV panels with current levels of innovation in the US for automation in their manufacture, the cost of labor could be less than $1.00/hr and more efficient"

     

    So much uncertainty in the regulatory environment in the US, no global corporation wants to take undue risk by spending millions/billions on a production facility that may never make any profit. This is the result of a politically dysfunctional government on the US part, and a predatory government on the part of the Chinese.
    30 Sep 2011, 08:30 AM Reply Like
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