- Walter Ramsley
The Obama Administration and its kindred souls in Europe have subsidized the solar industry with hundreds of billions of dollars. It might have been well intentioned. But that strategy of underwriting an uncompetitive technology is backfiring big time. The money should have been spent on R&D. Instead, it went into deployment. Now the money is pulled away and the solar industry has been left hanging out to dry.
A huge build-up took place in response to the various subsidies and tax credits and payoffs. Solar panel production capacity surged from 20 gigawatts to 60 gigawatts between 2009 and 2011. But demand didn’t keep pace. It did go up from 10 to 30 gigawatts. Now it’s heading down again, though, with the loss of subsidies.
The Obama Administration’s latest helping hand is a 30% tarrif on Chinese solar panels. That’s designed to protect American jobs. What it actually is doing is creating a trade war where American equipment makers, the area where we do have a competitive advantage, are getting blocked. So while a lot of the industry’s near term growth potential is shifting to new regions like Brazil, India, and yes, China itself. Our companies likely will be hit by retaliatory sanctions.
Solar had the potential to be a great industry. If the stimulus had been focused on improving the technology itself rather than creating a bunch of illusory Obama-Jobs we’d be on the verge of a major lift-off. As it is the money has been largely wasted, the technology is dicredited in the public’s mind, and a big chunk of industry likely will go bankrupt over the next few years.
Everybody thinks Barack Obama is the best choice for green energy. But look at the record. Look at the stock prices. They’re down 90% compared to the S&P 500 beging up 90%. And the outlook is for continued trouble over the next 1-2 years at least. It sounds counter intuitive but it’s like Nixon going to China. If you believe in a green future there’s a much higher likelihood it will happen under Mitt Romney’s direction.