Published on May 21st, 2012 | by Joshua S Hill3
Why Tariffs on Chinese Photovoltaics Could Be Bad for the Planet
We’ve already covered the decision here at Cleantechnia over the past week, Andrew detailing the Commerce Department’s ruling and Zach taking the time to shine a light on CASE’s response to the decision, as well as imparting some of his own wisdom on the matter.
Now, David Biello of Scientific American explains why he thinks that it is a bad idea for the planet as a whole.
In 2011 alone, we imported more than 93 million photovoltaic modules from China, thanks to prices that fell below $1 per watt.
Raising that price through tariffs might prevent more U.S. solar companies from going bankrupt like Solyndra and Unisolar did. But the tariffs will also mean higher prices for U.S. customers who want solar power—whether homeowners or utilities.
High prices have been the main reason that solar power still accounts for less than 1 percent of U.S. electricity. And high prices mean our nation will continue to convert only slowly from relying on electricity derived from burning fossil fuels to relying more on electricity derived directly from the sun.
Given that the world has a large and growing problem with greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change, that’s not a good outcome for the planet.
My Own Thoughts
I don’t want to belabour the point. From an American point of view, this is obviously good news for manufacturing companies such as SolarWorld. US citizens will be glad that jobs are staying in their country, and there is now more chance that any American solar development will see money funneled back into the country rather than to a foreign country.
But one has to wonder at the wisdom of hampering the ability of the average citizen the chance to install solar by effectively pushing up the price.
Image Source: Official U.S. Navy Imagery