This NYTimes piece on China and solar power is a must read as it touches upon environmentalism, protectionism, nationalism, the stimulus, the financial crisis and more! Here are a few grafs and comments.
Aided by at least $43 million in assistance from the government of Massachusetts and an innovative solar energy technology, Evergreen Solar emerged in the last three years as the third-largest maker of solar panels in the United States.
But now the company is closing its main American factory, laying off the 800 workers by the end of March and shifting production to a joint venture with a Chinese company in central China. Evergreen cited the much higher government support available in China…[and] plunging prices for solar panels. World prices have fallen as much as two-thirds in the last three years…
Good news, right? Plunging prices for solar is just what we want and shouldn't we applaud subsidies for green energy? Not so fast according to the article:
…solar power experts see broader implications. They say that after many years of relying on unstable governments in the Middle East for oil, the United States now looks likely to rely on China to tap energy from the sun…
China monopolizes the sun!
Ian A. Bowles, the former energy and environment chief for Gov. Deval L. Patrick…said the federal government had not helped the American industry enough or done enough to challenge Chinese government subsidies… “The federal government has brought a knife to a gun fight,” Mr. Bowles said.
I guess Bowles didn't get the memo about the new civility, or perhaps that only applies domestically. The reporters also seem to signal their views.
Evergreen’s joint-venture factory in Wuhan occupies a long, warehouselike concrete building in an industrial park located in an inauspicious neighborhood. A local employee said the municipal police had used the site for mass executions into the 1980s.
Woah, a little gratuitous no?
See here for more of interest including a discussion of how the financial crisis and the Lehman bankruptcy are involved.
Hat tip: Daniel Akst.