SolarWorld’s recent petition to the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission (ITC) is an effort to shield the company from fair competition, stated Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE). The result that SolarWorld is requesting may cause harm to the U.S. economy while raising prices for domestic solar installations.
SolarWorld’s petition comes at a time when consumer demand for solar is contributing more than 10,000 jobs a year to the U.S. economy, according to testimony presented at a hearing before the ITC. CASE, which represents the majority of the U.S. solar industry and is organized to protect the thriving U.S. solar industry from the reckless self-interest of a single foreign company, is opposing SolarWorld’s petitions.
“SolarWorld is looking to single-handedly kill U.S. solar jobs, which are primarily in solar installation, not in solar cell or panel manufacturing,” said CASE President, Jigar Shah. “Because of worldwide fair price competition, we have been able to significantly lower the cost of installing solar across the nation’s residential and commercial rooftops—which, in turn, has created more than 119,000 jobs to date.”
“The government shouldn’t reward or protect one German company that is not fitting into the thriving global solar industry,” added Shah. “It also should not punish the American companies that have found a job-creating niche in that same industry. The prosecution of this trade case is not going to solve the problem of promoting American manufacturing – it will just disrupt the industry.”
In the last decade, American companies have harnessed a global solar industry to nurture a mature and growing domestic industry, in which affordable solar panels manufactured abroad drive the creation of American installation jobs—jobs on American homes that can never be outsourced to other countries.
According to the Solar Foundation’s Annual Solar Jobs Census, more than 13,000 solar jobs were created between August 2011 and August 2012, driven by ongoing growth in solar installation, sales, and distribution. There was negative growth in manufacturing jobs over the same twelve months.
Two basic trends capture the success of domestic companies in the global solar industry: Module prices declined 44% from 2011-2012, which in turn caused U.S. solar capacity increases of 71% over the same period.
“Previously SolarWorld filed a petition against China. Now it is going after Taiwan,” further commented Shah. “Who’s next? Malaysia, or other countries with costs of production lower than SolarWorld’s high cost manufacturing process?”
“The time has come for the Obama Administration to play a more active role to support the expansion of the U.S. solar industry made possible by today’s affordable solar cells and panels,” added Shah.
SolarWorld, which has struggled in recent years to compete in a global solar marketplace, appears intent to raise the cost of solar energy to American consumers, be they residential, commercial or utility. Because solar largely attracts residential customers by offering them electricity at prices lower than the price of utility power, SolarWorld’s tariffs could have the effect of pricing much of the solar industry out of the U.S. marketplace. In this case it is not clear how even SolarWorld would benefit from such a sharp decline in demand, CASE indicates.