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Solar Tariffs & US manufacturing

image credit: CNN
Doug Houseman's picture
Visionary and innovator in the utility industry and grid modernization Burns & McDonnell

I have a broad background in utilities and energy. I worked for Capgemini in the Energy Practice for more than 15 years. During that time I rose to the position of CTO of the 12,000 person...

  • Member since 2017
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  • May 12, 2022
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CNN posted this story today...

https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/06/politics/solar-energy-china-investigation-climate/index.html

It sounds bad, but so is slavery and using a third country to duck tariffs has been a time honored dodge that takes additional investigations to prove or disprove. While I feel for the people who may be out of work soon (or already are), the fact that the US Government has done very little to build a supply chain in the US is the larger problem - poly-silicon is the base of most PV panels, it is made almost entirely in one country (oh, and it is the base of most semi-conductor chips too). Cell manufacturing is mostly in a couple of countries, in Asia. Making panels from those cells is almost all in Asia and it is those panel makers who use cells from mostly that 1 country.

It is not just opinion but confirmed fact that slave labor is used where many of the poly-silicon plants and the cell manufacture is.

While I am unhappy that this tariff and investigation are slowing solar projects - I am more unhappy that we will be dependent on that one country for the generation of electrical power from the sun in the future, and a cut off of those products by either country will potentially end up in a nation wide black out.

We need a supply chain for solar that is independent of Asia, may be not for 100% of our needs, but at least 50% of our needs should be built here in North America. The fact that it will be a strategic part of our critical infrastructure should be all that is needed to get the government working on this - look how fast they mobilized to help Europe with natural gas. Should we not put the same priority on sustainable infrastructure supply chains?

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Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on May 16, 2022

Alternate approach. End solar energy subsidies which will significantly cut artificially created demand and concurrently significantly increase tariffs, thereby creating time to develop North-American/ free-world infrastructure for solar panel production. The alleged problem (global warming) is a very long term consideration and as such there is no rational reason for near term enrichment of a few at the expense of the many. As solar panels can be useful and profitable, industry will build the necessary facilities and infrastructure because the heavily subsidized Chinese government support will be short-circuited.

In others words, end the hysterical overreaction deliberately created by the renewable energy mafia. 

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