US, China in solar power battle

By Nadine Arendse
Johannesburg, 06 Dec 2011

US, China in solar power battle

The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) are concerned that jobs will be lost in Arizona due to SolarWorld's anti-trade petition, Market Watch says.

Arizona is the third-largest employer in solar-related fields in America with nearly 5 000 jobs across 980 solar establishments in the state, according to the National Solar Jobs Census for 2011 report, released by The Solar Foundation. Nationally, the solar industry is expected to add about 37 000 jobs by 2013, with many anticipated to be created in Arizona. SolarWorld's trade complaint could put these jobs in jeopardy.

Upon an appeal filed by SolarWorld Industries America and six other undisclosed firms, the US Department of Commerce (DOC) said on 8 November that it would conduct an investigation to determine whether Chinese firms have been selling solar panels in the US at unfair discounts and receiving illegal government subsidies, China Daily states.

The companies, including Suntech Power and Yingli Green Energy, that have decided to jointly raise a plea in response to the US probe, also rejected allegations that they have been receiving illegal government subsidies.

Beijing is promoting renewable energy, both to curb rising demand for imported oil in the world's second-largest economy and in the hopes of creating a profitable technology export industry. It gives research grants and tax breaks to developers, but says they are in line with those given by other governments and comply with free-trade rules, The Washington Post reports.

A final ruling on the solar panels case is due in July. If the complaint is upheld, the US government could impose punitive tariffs.