CASE fires another salvo in growing solar dispute, says “trade war hurts everyone”

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As reports keep filtering in that the China Photovoltaic Industry Alliance (CPIA) is in the midst of filing an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy trade case against US-based producers of solar products, the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) voiced its unease about the “trade war”, collateral damage and potential job loss that SolarWorld’s anti-trade actions could produce.

“Unfortunately, our worst fears are becoming a reality. SolarWorld's actions are now threatening to directly hurt all levels of the US solar industry and could undermine decades of industry progress and innovation. Tens of thousands of jobs are now at stake, and for what? Who benefits? It's becoming painfully obvious throughout the US solar industry that trade wars are jobs killers. In addition, a solar trade war threatens our common goal of making solar electricity affordable for everyone in the US. As the world's two largest energy producers and consumers, the US and China must work together to solve our planet's energy and environmental crisis,” said Jigar Shah, co-founder and chairman of CASE as well as the founder of SunEdison. “For the sake of the global solar industry and tens of thousands of jobs, we urge SolarWorld to withdraw its complaint and for China-based PV companies to stand-down in turn. The success of the global solar industry will be achieved through competition and growth, not protectionism,” added Shah.

GTM Research recently acknowledged that the US is a net exporter of solar products to China by over US$200 million and to the rest of the world by nearly US$2 billion. GTM additionally cited the fact that US companies are leaders in polysilicon production and manufacturing equipment with American companies exporting US$873 million worth of polysilicon in 2010 and almost US$1 billion of manufacturing equipment to China. Comparatively, imports in 2010 for polysilicon and manufacturing equipment were US$4 million and US$93 million, respectively.

CASE went on to express its fear that a trade war would bring the cost-reduction of crystalline silicon solar panels, which it states have become more competitive against traditional energy sources since the global price drop in polysilicon prices, to a trajectory risk.

“The U.S. solar energy industry is currently experiencing rapid growth, creating new jobs in the United States and exporting key components in the solar value chain to numerous countries, including exporting to China.  U.S. job growth and manufacturing exports, as well as the achievement of U.S. renewable energy goals, are all furthered by the dismissal of the SolarWorld trade case. This trade case, brought by a company that represents approximately 2-3% of the U.S. solar job market, is putting at risk these crucial American objectives and threatening the remaining 97-98% of the U.S. solar industry that is creating jobs and is continuing its progress toward achieving grid parity for solar energy,” said Kevin Lapidus, a CASE spokesperson and senior vice president of legal and government affairs for SunEdison, a subsidiary of MEMC.

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