Solar Press Release War

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I don’t know how many of you are following the SolarWorld petition alleging that China is dumping solar panels in the U.S., and the push-back against it by a coalition of solar companies, Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE). To me, this is all a big waste of time and resources. But, clearly, the petition could have serious negative consequences for the solar industry if it went anywhere. It seems like there’s at least one new press release about the matter every day, from SolarWorld or CASE or China. While sharing all of them doesn’t seem very useful — there’s not that much substance in most of them; it’s more like a little press release war — I figured I should keep you somewhat up-to-date on the matter. So, here is one of the most recent, from CASE, giving more detail regarding the push-back against the SolarWorld petition and why so many in the industry don’t support it:

case solar

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2011 — Within one week of forming, dozens of U.S. solar companies, representing thousands of American jobs, have joined the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) to urge policymakers to help find a resolution to SolarWorld’s harmful trade petition. The Coalition now represents 52 American solar companies from across the United States and throughout the solar value chain and more than 9,600 jobs, or nearly 10% of the U.S. solar industry workforce.

“Every day, new American solar companies are stepping forward to oppose SolarWorld’s bid to block competition in the U.S. solar industry,” said Alan Epstein, President and COO of KDC Solar LLC, a new CASE member based in New Jersey. “Competition is good for the U.S. solar industry, good for solar jobs, and most importantly, good for creating and preserving long-term jobs for our electric customers and therefore the economy. The solar industry must remain united in its mission to make solar energy affordable for everyone.”

CASE members represent a large cross section of the U.S. solar industry, both large and small companies, including silicon and module manufacturers, project developers, financial and real estate services and installers.

“We’ve hired 400 employees this year, including electricians, roofers, salespeople, call center professionals – affordable solar energy in the United States is the catalyst for this new economic opportunity and these jobs,” said Ken Button, co-founder and president, Verengo Solar Plus. “If SolarWorld is successful with its petition, it would hurt the broader U.S. solar industry. Are SolarWorld’s jobs more important than ours?”

In a recent solar industry report, Jefferies analyst Jesse Pichel explained why SolarWorld’s anti-trade petition could hurt broader U.S. solar industry growth: “The U.S. solar industry, already suffering from a lack of financing, will experience higher panel prices and lower demand if countervailing duties are imposed as early 2012. SolarWorld may see backlash as U.S. developers and installers are hurt by this scorched Earth approach.”

SolarWorld’s trade action has been largely unpopular in the U.S. solar industry, given its potential to hurt thousands of jobs throughout the solar value chain. In a survey conducted by PV Magazine, 76.4 percent of respondents opposed the petition with only 20 percent expressing support.

“We must be careful not to jeopardize 100,000 jobs in a bid to save one struggling company with 1,000 jobs,” added Button. “The solar industry is expected to add about 24,000 jobs in 2012, but cost-prohibitive solar would put that growth at risk.”

To learn more about the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), please visit our

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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4 thoughts on “Solar Press Release War

  • Great post Zach:
    This is the kind of crap that we must endure when people go into a business (any business) with “profit” as their main goal. I agree that the wage disparity between the US and Chins is a big hurdle to jump over. Asking for trade barriers in order to protect a business is counterproductive. Finding a way to make better solar panels would be a more effective use of a companies time than asking for Nana to keep away the boogie man.

    • Thanks. Agreed. I like to think that everyone in the business is in it for reasons beyond money, but I know that’s not the case — this is an industry with a ton of growth potential. That said, maybe the folks filing this petition just don’t want their whole business to collapse around them and have to deal with that disaster, but the bottom line is that this petition isn’t good for the majority of the industry and those of us outside the industry who want to see solar succeed and expand. Anyway, I know you know all that, just got on a ramble 😀

  • You are being naive, reactionary, and are ill-informed, and so is CASE. I noted that most of the CASE members are smaller companies, First Solar and Sunpower are conspicuously absent. Could be because they actually know what’s happening here.

    Last week the Commerce department agreed to an investigation on this matter. What I never see mentioned is that the attempts to address this with the Chinese directly were rebuffed with threats by them. The Chinese applied tariffs to all non-chinese manufactured PV and other solar equipment for their own market. No one mentions that there is also evidence that the costs of Chinese PV’s are higher than what they are selling them for, classic dumping to gain market share. And in violation of trade laws.

    What people also forget is that the Chinese are dependant upon the USA for innovation. When the next generation of solar collectors is out, their lead will evaporate if they don’t get the new tech sold to them (or they outright steal it). Why is it OK for them to do setup protectionism for their own solar market and not for us to respond in kind when faced with it?

    It’s all well and good to claim openness to competition, which I fully support. Except that is nothing of the sort here, and it’s not due to SolarWorld’s petition. The Chinese do not have to play fair, and our response should be not to whine about it, but retailiate in kind, or we will lcertainly ose those jobs CASE is concerned about.

    On Monday, Commerce Secretary Chu made a good case for government support of Solar to get back in this game. What CASE is doing does nothing towards that end.

    • I still can’t say i agree with this approach. I think it is more harmful than helpful for those of us who want to see more solar in the world faster. But I will go ahead and post your response here as a reply (publish it as a guest post). Is there anything in the content you would like changed before I do so?

Comments are closed.