The #1 surprise of the recent solar power conference in Texas was a petition brought forth by some in the industry, led by Oregon-based SolarWorld, claiming that China was illegally “dumping” its solar panels in the U.S. (selling the panels for less than it costs to make them).
While some in the U.S. solar industry have come out strongly against such claims and pointed out that a solar trade war would be less than helpful, Obama acknowledged last week that the administration has wrestled with China on some clean energy policies and is looking into this claim.
In an interview with Tracy Barry, news anchor for Portland-based KGW NewsChannel 8, Obama said:
“We have seen a lot of questionable competitive practices coming out of China when it comes to the clean energy space, and I have been more aggressive than previous administrations in enforcing our trade laws. We have filed actions against them when we see these kinds of dumping activities, and we’re going to look very carefully at this stuff and potentially bring actions, if we find that the basic rules of the road have been violated.” Here’s the video:
While Gordon Brinser, president of Oregon-based SolarWorld Industries America Inc., says Obama’s statement validates his concerns that China is violating U.S. and world trade laws in this space, I think it’s inaccurate to say that Obama’s remarks validate SolarWorld’s specific concerns, and we have to wait until an investigation into the matter is concluded to see if he agrees with SolarWorld and the other solar companies that have brought this matter up.
And, agreeing with Arno Harris of Recurrent Energy, I think the overall effects of getting into a solar trade battle with China is not the way to go — it’s not going to help the U.S. and it’s not going to help the world.
Obama photo via jurvetson on flickr