Filed under: Guest Posts. Tagged as: politics, solar politics.
Over time, scientists have discovered innovative means to leverage the power of the sun. Nowadays, the conversion of more solar energy into usable power ranks high on the political schema in various nations, in the midst of the increasing push to utilize energy sources that are more environment-friendly. In the United States for instance, the use of solar power. is gaining momentum.
The once hefty price tag that comes with the utilization of solar power has dipped considerably, thanks to state subsidies and years of technological breakthroughs. Along with proponents of wind energy, solar advocates claim that they can provide cleaner power supply at costs that are at par with electricity generated from fossil fuels. However, wind and solar power firms have made it clear to Congress that they won’t be able to sustain such competitiveness without further support from the government.
Need for Sustained Federal Support
The rise of solar power was propelled by the federal stimulus package which rendered a tax credit and offered other incentives for the energy sector. Based on a report issued by the EuPD Research, extending the 1603 tax-grant program by a single year will create an estimated 37,000 jobs in the solar industry alone for 2012. Unfortunately, the push for wind and solar power appears to have come at a period when there is less interest for additional subsidies from Washington.
Concerns regarding fiscal deficit have made lawmakers more cynical when it comes to new and extended tax breaks for businesses as a whole. To complicate matters, the loss of over $500 million of taxpayer money on Solyndra, a manufacturer of solar modules that went bankrupt, has smeared the reputation of alternative energy sources. Solyndra initially benefited from the 2009 stimulus package which gave state loan guarantees for projects involving ‘clean energy.’ However, solar firms are claiming that the tax breaks they are after are entirely different. Their argument is anchored on the premise that only operational businesses can avail of the tax credits. Hence, taxpayers are not at risk of getting trapped financing failing companies.
A Torrent of Trade Issues
The solar panel industry in the U.S. has initiated a series of trade issues against imported products. On October 10, 2012, a final ruling was issued by the U.S. Commerce Department, imposing 24 to 36% tariffs on solar panels from China. In spite of denials from the Chinese government, the department construed that Chinese companies received state subsidies, enabling them to import solar panels. to the U.S. at prices that are below their manufacturing and shipping costs.
American solar panel manufacturers are currently urging the government to further widen the tariffs so they would include solar panels that are partly produced in China. And it does not end there since the U.S. industry isn’t dismissing the possibility of more trade cases aimed at other exporters of solar panels from Asia.
Jason Castillo is a freelance writer and an active solar energy advocate who loves to feature people and companies that promote a healthy mother Earth through the use of renewable solar energy resources.