Sen. Rod Wyden, D-Ore., has issued a policy brief describing what he says is a troubling development for domestic manufacturing of renewable energy technology: Even as worldwide demand for solar panels has rapidly mounted, a ‘myriad of subsidies’ have enabled China's solar manufacturers to seize world market share by charging below-market prices.
Wyden released the policy brief, called ‘China's Grab for Green Jobs,’ during a visit to the U.S. headquarters of SolarWorld in Hillsboro, Ore.
Wyden's brief shows that imports of solar cells and panels from China into the United States roughly tripled between 2009 and 2010 and more than tripled once again so far this year, compared with the same period of last year. During the period from 2006 through 2010, almost every global leader of solar energy technology production lost market share to China.
In the past 18 months, seven U.S. plants have shut down or downsized in six states, laying off workers in Arizona, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania.
"In short, China's gains in the clean energy industry – particularly solar – are coming at the expense of American and other world producers of this technology, who would otherwise benefit from the increased demand," the brief says.
Wyden chairs the Senate Finance Committee's Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness. He was accompanied on his visit by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Wyden and Murkowski are expected to be the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Energy Committee in the next Congress, SolarWorld notes.