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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tarrifs on Chinese Solar Panels - So what effect?

The US put tariffs on cheap Chinese solar panels last year. The allegation was the Chinese manufacturers were selling under cost. I agree with the allegation of selling under cost, unfortunately there is an over supply of solar panels and its better for the local government that usually backs a solar manufacturer to keep the jobs, and take the loss. Another allegation is that the Chinese solar panels quality is suffering, some of them not even lasting two years as costs get cut, resulting in poor quality.

A scary quote from the NY Times story Solar Industry Anxious Over Defective Panels:
Executives at companies that inspect Chinese factories on behalf of developers and financiers said that over the last 18 months they have found that even the most reputable companies are substituting cheaper, untested materials.

What happened to the market for cheap solar panels, is another nations such as Malaysia now supply the US.

Disclaimer: I am a big fan of solar in theory and the technology advances are very exciting. Solar is getting closer in the Los Angeles (super sunny) area to be competitive with the price of retail electricity. And yes, I know about the storage issues (no solar at night). As well as the impact of fracking that has led to cheap natural gas in the US that is changing the economics of electricity generation.



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