Chinese solar products 'benefit' US too

Updated: 2011-11-12 12:47

By CHENG GUANGJIN AND LIU YIYU (China Daily)

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WASHINGTON / NEW YORK - China has driven down the price of some alternative energy in terms of solar panels and wind turbines in the US market, which has benefited US consumers, American business executives and analysts have said.

China and the United States have recently engaged in a dispute over US' investigation on claims by US solar panel manufacturers accusing Chinese rivals of dumping solar panels on the US market.

China's Commerce Ministry said Thursday that China is strongly dissatisfied about the investigation which not only hurts bilateral cooperation in the renewable energy industry, but also damages the US interests.

Theodore Roosevelt IV, board chair of Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, said that China has forced the price of a lot of alternative energy, including solar panels and wind turbines, to drop, which actually "has benefited American consumers".

The price of solar electricity in the US has dropped by 30 percent since 2010, according to the US Solar Energy Industries Association. At the same time, the US was a net exporter of solar products in 2010 by $2 billion, including to China by more than $200 million.

China has been playing an important role in tackling with climate change, but "in a way many of the people in this country (the US) don't fully understand," he told China Daily.

Many American companies oppose the action by seven US solar PV makers including Germany's Solar- World, saying global competition is making affordable solar energy a reality in America and around the world.

"SolarWorld's action to block or dramatically curtail solar cell imports from China places that goal at risk,"the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy said on its website.

Roosevelt said the paranoia happens "when a country faces economic and political competition, there will be some people that worry excessively about that."

The US held the top spot in clean energy investment until 2009, when China took the lead for the first time.

Kevin Tu, senior associate of China Energy & Climate Policy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), said Chinese manufacturers with significant presence in the US should consider expanding their manufacturing operations in the US. By doing so, they can easily bypass the potential challenges from any antidumping case.

Many Chinese solar companies have established their roots in the US, including Suntech, Yingli, Trina and LDK.

Suntech has a factory in Goodyear, Arizona, employing about 100 people.