The President’s Green Initiative would have Worked Better if China didn’t build Better Solar Panels for Less

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 28th, 2012

Week in Review

President Obama loaned a half billion dollars to Solyndra to create jobs of the future.  Solyndra filed bankruptcy shortly thereafter.  And they are not the only green investment to go belly up.  But the president hasn’t given up on his green energy.  Especially solar power.  Despite China (see Rays of hope for solar firms by Wang Jun and Chen Jia posted 10/26/2012 on China Daily USA).

China’s solar-panel industry has been rocked by recent US duties on its exports to combat alleged dumping and the specter of similar action by European authorities.

At least one company sees the standoff as an opportunity, however…

In the industry’s trade tussle with the United States, Zhou believes, weaker companies will suffer most, and some may fail…

CSG PVTech, a subsidiary of Shenzhen-listed CSG Holding Co, makes panels and modules studded with photovoltaic, or PV, cells that draw on the sun’s rays to produce electricity. Zhou said his confidence in the company is backed by recognition its products have received abroad.

For example, German solar-industry publisher Photon, which tests PV cells and related equipment, since 2010 has ranked CSG-made modules containing monocrystalline-silicon cells among the top three in the world and polycrystalline-silicon modules among the top 10…

Although he oversees both European and US operations for CSG PVTech, it’s clear where Zhou’s focus resides…

“California is a bigger market than Germany,” he said, pointing out that the US state meets the two key requirements – lots of sunshine and a huge demand for electricity.

Jack Pryor, CEO of Access Solar Inc, a Palm Springs installer of panels in homes, said his company is currently outfitting over 110 new townhouses in California with CSG PV panels…

By working with installers like Access Solar, Zhou plans to turn CSG’s focus in the US from business-to-business to business-to-customer, in hopes of making the Chinese company a household name.

He admits, however, that like many Chinese enterprises, a limited understanding of marketing is a hurdle.

“We sell products, but we don’t understand how to sell service,” he said. “As a result, our value chain is too short.”

Zhou aims to sell both.

So not only can the Chinese make solar panels far cheaper than the Americans they make quality stuff.  In fact they make one product that is in the top three in the world.  And another that is in the top 10.  Inexpensive and high quality?  Hard to compete against that.  But it even gets worse for those jobs of the future.  American installers are partnering with China.  And China is working on providing excellent service in addition to low prices and high quality.

So it looks like the president’s green initiative will help create those jobs of the future after all…in China.  But they’re trying to stop that by slapping anti-dumping duties on them.  Of course, that just raises the cost of saving the planet.  Discouraging people from installing solar panels on their houses because of these higher costs.  So the president’s green initiative is basically a lose-lose.  No jobs of the future.  And discouraging people from trying to save the planet.  Oh, and the president’s war on coal is raising the cost of electric power.  So the president’s policies are a triple loser.

Solar power.  It was going to pull America out of the Great Recession by creating jobs of the future.  Instead we get bankruptcies of government subsidized firms.  And higher unemployment than there was four years ago.  Is it me or is solar power not the panacea that the president said it was?

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