Greg's Bite: the crazy politics of solar energy
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Greg's Bite: the crazy politics of solar energy

By Greg Mills (gregmills@mac.com)

May 18, 2012: the US Department of Commerce places high tariffs on imported Chinese photovoltaic cells. In one of the most stunning, counter-intuitive, anti-green, anti-free enterprise moves the Obama administration has ever made (is that saying something or what?), the US has just placed tariffs of up to 249% on imported Chinese photovoltaic cells. Cheap photocells are bad for the US market? 

Three US photocell manufacturers whined to the Department of Commerce that Chinese photovoltaic cell manufacturing is being "subsidized" by the Chinese government, which allows them to "dump" cheap photovoltaic cells on the market.  What a terrible thing: dumping cheap photocells and cheap solar panels! The choice between dumped cheap Chinese photocells that produce "free" electricity for 20 years or more vs. expensive oil (which will only go up astronomically in cost over time) makes the new tariff as stupid as a bag of hammers. 

The biggest barrier to green energy, in the form of photoelectric installation, is really the cost per installed watt. The cost per watt for Chinese photocells has recently gone down dramatically due to China scaling up its silicon cell production and recent innovation. That the Chinese government was wise enough to invest in producing cheap solar cells is a good thing, not a bad thing.  

The US has recently done exactly the same thing, but foolishly invested in the wrong technology and squandered billions of tax dollars. We subsidize new solar installations in the US, so the "crime" of government interference in the solar market really cuts both ways. You can invest in driving the price per watt down or subsidize installation -- what is the difference? Both approaches are valid to achieve the major goal of converting to green energy. 

If the question is phrased like this; if the Chinese government chooses to dramatically reduce the price of solar cells to the world market, is that good or bad? Most people would think the Chinese are doing us a big favor, but that is not the thinking of the Obama administration. Supporting the fortunes of three US solar cell manufacturers is more important to the administration than the stated major goal of converting the US to renewable energy at affordable prices. 

As an old timer in the solar energy industry, I have seen the devastating effect short sighted governmental action has on the solar market. Back in the Carter administration the long lines for gasoline drove the government towards subsidizing solar energy with generous tax credits. A solar energy industry sprang up and began to move the US towards getting off the virtual energy monopoly imported oil had on us. As soon as oil prices leveled off, the solar subsidies expired and the fledgling solar industry withered. Private investments in solar startups were lost.

The time frame for launching and maturing solar energy technology is something the idiots in Congress don't understand. If nothing else, the solar energy business needs a stable environment as far as governmental issues are concerned. A tax credit program to support the conversion from oil to solar needs to be predictable and stupid things like intentionally and dramatically increasing the market price of solar cells is retrograde to the point of idiocy. 

Is it better for the US to have a way to economically achieve the goal of converting to green energy or is the protection of three non-competitive domestic solar cell manufactures more important? Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries, who filed the complaint in October of last year with the Commerce Department gloated;  "The verdict is in, (the US) Commerce (department) has now confirmed that Chinese manufacturers are guilty of illegally dumping solar cells and panels in the US market."  

The argument that domestic production needs to be protected for the long term good of the USA makes sense. The issue is the way the Obama administration has chosen to do it. The department of Energy has been so motivated in granting money to politically favored solar companies they were blindsided by unproven and it turns out flawed solar technology.  Investing in innovative refinement and scaling up of known technology was the choice the Chinese made. US taxpayers bet $528,000,000 on Solyndra and lost it all. If investing half a billion dollars in Solyndra is different than what the Chinese did, I would like for someone to explain it to me.  

I submit that freely letting the Chinese dump all the cheap solar panels on the US market they want makes perfect sense. If the Chinese raise prices after driving US manufactures out of business, new and better technology and new companies are sure to spring up in a truly free enterprise environment.  To me the choice between expensive oil and cheap solar panels, no matter where they are made, is a no brainer.  

Greg Mills is a former Solar Contractor in California and Hawaii and an inventor.  See http://www.cottageindustrysolar.com .

 
AAPL
$98.38
Apple Inc.
-0.64
MSFT
$43.89
Microsoft Corpora
-0.09
GOOG
$585.61
Google Inc.
-4.99

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Drive Genius 3.2.4 - Powerful system uti...
Drive Genius is an OS X utility designed to provide unsurpassed storage management. Featuring an easy-to-use interface, Drive Genius is packed with powerful tools such as a drive optimizer, a... Read more
Vitamin-R 2.15 - Personal productivity t...
Vitamin-R creates the optimal conditions for your brain to work at its best by structuring your work into short bursts of distraction-free, highly focused activity alternating with opportunities for... Read more
Toast Titanium 12.0 - The ultimate media...
Toast Titanium goes way beyond the very basic burning in the Mac OS and iLife software, and sets the standard for burning CDs, DVDs, and now Blu-ray discs on the Mac. Create superior sounding audio... Read more
OS X Yosemite Wallpaper 1.0 - Desktop im...
OS X Yosemite Wallpaper is the gorgeous new background image for Apple's upcoming OS X 10.10 Yosemite. This wallpaper is available for all screen resolutions with a source file that measures 5,418... Read more
Acorn 4.4 - Bitmap image editor. (Demo)
Acorn is a new image editor built with one goal in mind - simplicity. Fast, easy, and fluid, Acorn provides the options you'll need without any overhead. Acorn feels right, and won't drain your bank... Read more
Bartender 1.2.20 - Organize your menu ba...
Bartender lets you organize your menu bar apps. Features: Lets you tidy your menu bar apps how you want. See your menu bar apps when you want. Hide the apps you need to run, but do not need to... Read more
TotalFinder 1.6.2 - Adds tabs, hotkeys,...
TotalFinder is a universally acclaimed navigational companion for your Mac. Enhance your Mac's Finder with features so smart and convenient, you won't believe you ever lived without them. Tab-based... Read more
Vienna 3.0.0 RC 2 :be5265e: - RSS and At...
Vienna is a freeware and Open-Source RSS/Atom newsreader with article storage and management via a SQLite database, written in Objective-C and Cocoa, for the OS X operating system. It provides... Read more
VLC Media Player 2.1.5 - Popular multime...
VLC Media Player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, MP3, OGG, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It... Read more
Default Folder X 4.6.7 - Enhances Open a...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Note Review
Note Review By Jennifer Allen on July 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: TOO SIMPLEiPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad Note is a note taking app that’s a little too short on features to be worth its asking price... | Read more »
Chainsaw Warrior Goes on Sale & Ther...
Chainsaw Warrior Goes on Sale & There’s a Chance to Win a Copy of the Original Board Game Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 29th, 2014 [ permalink | Read more »
It Came From Canada: Tiny Tower Vegas
If you go to a casino, you might make a lot of money. If you run a casino, you’re guaranteed to make a lot of money. The choice seems pretty obvious. So while waiting for your shady real estate deals to move forward, get prepared with Tiny Tower... | Read more »
Z Hunter Review
Z Hunter Review By Lee Hamlet on July 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: RIGHT ON TARGETUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad While it might not necessarily break new ground, Z Hunter has enough tricks up its sleeve to ensure that... | Read more »
Huge Update Comes To Duet, Adding 48 New...
Huge Update Comes To Duet, Adding 48 New Stages Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Sharknado: The Video Game Available Now....
Sharknado: The Video Game Available Now. Seriously. Posted by Rob Rich on July 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Frog Orbs 2 Review
Frog Orbs 2 Review By Nadia Oxford on July 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: THIS MAGIC IS A TAD MONOTONOUS Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Frog Orbs 2 is repetitive, but younger players should enjoy it nonetheless.   | Read more »
Puzzix Review
Puzzix Review By Jennifer Allen on July 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NICE IDEAUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad A little like Tetris, Puzzix is all about piecing together blocks and watching them vanish. It could do with... | Read more »
Cannonball eMail is Now Live – Works Wit...
Cannonball eMail is Now Live – Works With Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, Hotmail, and AOL Posted by Jessica Fisher on July 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
To The End Review
To The End Review By Lee Hamlet on July 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: A VICIOUS CYCLEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad To The End will test players’ patience, timing, and dedication as they try to navigate all 13 levels in... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

WaterField Unveils 15″ Outback Solo & 13″...
Hard on the heels of Apple’s refreshed MacBook Pro Retina laptops announcement, WaterField Designs has unveiled a 15-inch version of the waxed-canvas and leather Outback Solo and a 13-inch version of... Read more
New Roxio Toast 12 Delivers Digital Media Pow...
Roxio Toast 12 is a hub for sharing digital media to virtually any platform or device. has introduced two new additions to its Roxio Toast product family – Roxio Toast 12 Titanium and Roxio Toast 12... Read more
The lowest prices on leftover Retina MacBook...
Best Buy has dropped prices on leftover 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros by up to $300 off original MSRP on their online store for a limited time. Choose free local store pickup (if available) or free... Read more
Apple Updates MacBook Pro with Retina Display...
Apple today updated its MacBook Pro with Retina display with faster processors and double the amount of memory in both entry-level configurations. MacBook Pro with Retina display features a Retina... Read more
Up to $250 price drop on leftover 15-inch Mac...
B&H Photo has dropped prices on 2013 15″ Retina MacBook Pros by as much as $250 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.3GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $2349... Read more
Updated MacBook Pro Price Trackers
We’ve updated our MacBook Pro Price Trackers with the latest information on prices, bundles, and availability on the new 2014 models from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers as well as... Read more
Apple updates MacBook Pros with slightly fast...
Apple updated 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros today with slightly faster Haswell processors. 13″ models now ship with 8GB of RAM standard, while 15″ MacBook Pros ship with 16GB across the board. Most... Read more
Apple drops price on 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro b...
The Apple Store has dropped their price for the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro by $100 to $1099 including free shipping. Read more
Apple drops prices on refurbished 2013 MacBoo...
The Apple Store has dropped prices on Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ and 15″ 2013 MacBook Pros, with model now available starting at $929. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free... Read more
iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 To Support DuckDuckGo As...
Writing for Quartz, Dan Frommer reports that Apple’s forthcoming iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 operating systems version updates will allow users to select DuckDuckGo as their default search engine. He notes... Read more

Jobs Board

Sr Software Lead Engineer, *Apple* Online S...
Sr Software Lead Engineer, Apple Online Store Publishing Systems Keywords: Company: Apple Job Code: E3PCAK8MgYYkw Location (City or ZIP): Santa Clara Status: Full Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Sr. Product Leader, *Apple* Store Apps - Ap...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.