Are Low Cost Solar Panels Bad for America?

Calls flow into our administrative office in Sacramento every day from Americans who will only buy American solar panels and other products. Where you stand on the issue is likely a function of your level of outrage on the exporting of American jobs. Today the solar industry in the US is booming in almost all aspects. A large driving force of that boom are cheap solar panels being imported from China. Imported low cost solar panels has to be the pure form of dichotomy because while we seek grid parity, we do not want to acknowledge we are smack in the middle of a global economy and we can either adapt or go extinct.

Though there are a lot of finger pointing and blame, it is widely suspected that Chinese solar companies are being subsidized by the Chinese government. To that I say OK, not fair, but how many billions of dollars is spent by the U.S. government subsidizing of all things the big oil companies?

The Chinese government denies the claims it is subsidizing solar panel production and has launched its own investigation. At the same time it is pushing back and making claims the U.S. is dumping silicon onto the Chinese market thereby forcing its companies out of business. To both claims I say so what?

The rapidly expanding solar panel installation in homes across America is ultimately good for the country and is helping to create jobs while improving our national security. How may billions of dollars and lives did we sacrifice in the middle east fighting over oil fields in the last 20 years? The truth is when you see the sense of control and pride come over the face of homeowners who have just installed a quality home solar panel kit at a cheap price you cannot buy that kind of personal satisfaction.

The installed cost of home solar panel systems has dropped 17% from 2009 to 2010 according to a report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Falling solar panel prices only mean one thing, the homeowner and local businesses win for a change. You cannot export solar installation jobs. Freeing homeowners from the monopoly of the utility company puts more money back into local communities instead of sending it to the middle east. In 2010 overall installation costs declined despite reduced average state and utility incentives. The goal of grid parity is within reach in many states in the country. With home solar panels contributing only about 1% to the U.S. energy demand there is a brave new world available out their for those with the courage to step into it.

Contributing source: Home Power Magazine