US – China Trade War Over Solar Panels

Trade wars initiated by trade sanctions are nothing new. In fact they happen in many industries, especially those that are highly competitive. But it may be a surprise to learn that a trade war over solar panels may be about to begin, over potential sanctions put on China imports. What is already happening in many other industries may bleed over into the renewable energy business, and this could have severe consequences on US customers who want to adopt a green energy system and install solar panels, and may affect a lot of jobs.

It all started when SolarWorld, a German based company operating in the US, filed a complaint with the trade commission on behalf of all the US based solar panel manufacturers. The complaint said that China manufacturers were getting major subsidies from their government and dumping these panels in the US at a much lower price, so that US companies couldn’t compete.

This isn’t a new story, and it’s something that happens all the time in all sorts of industries. Trade is governed by a series of treaties, and one stipulation says that while a manufacturer in one country can sell its goods in another country, if that company gets an unfair advantage, such as having large government grants, then it’s unfair to the companies in the second country who do not have that advantage. That’s when a complaint is made, and when trade tariffs are added. Any time an imported product, such as lumber wood, food, etc, has a special tax added onto it when it comes into the country, it’s usually because of these trade sanctions.

Here, solar panels have so far been clear of sanctions, until now. The government will need to review the complaint and make a decision. Either it’s not true, and everything will stay as it is, or Chinese companies are getting an unfair advantage, in which case the rules of the game may change. But what does it mean for US customers? Well, it means China based solar panels will suddenly raise in price, for a start. So higher prices are clearly on the horizon, which is obviously bad news. However, the reason for these trade sanctions is that without them, US companies couldn’t compete, which means they might go out of business, and a lot of people may lose their jobs. So with these higher prices, you may see companies stay in business. In fact, what often happens is that they now get room to grow, and local employment goes up. So it’s a double edged sword.

As you can imagine, the possibility of trade sanctions is a very hot topic, and a lot of people are upset with what SolarWorld did. There’s people and companies arguing on both sides of the fence, and ultimately it’s the government that will need to make a decision in this case. It could take a while however, a few years in fact, but there’s little doubt that this situation will not go away until a final decision is made.

US Licenses First Nuclear Reactors Since 1978

Last week the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the construction of two new nuclear reactors for the Southern Company, to be added to their existing Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia. These reactors are the first to be added in the US since 1978, before the Three Miles Island incident. As such, it made the news and was a highly debated decision, both on the NRC panel, among scientists and in the media. The final decision was made on Thursday and it wasn’t unanimous, with the chairman voting against the other members. After the events in Japan from last year, this is sure to cause a lot of controversy around the country.

The licensing that was just approved covers $14 billion worth of reactors, two in all, to be added to an existing facility. This is part of the company’s aim to reduce energy dependence on cold burning and other unclean energy sources, and keep growing their nuclear facilities. But in the aftermath of Fukushima, not everyone sees things this way. The public confidence in nuclear power has been shaken. The chairman wrote “I cannot support this licensing as if Fukushima never happened. I believe it requires some type of binding commitment that the Fukushima enhancements that are currently projected and currently planned to be made would be made before the operation of the facility.” But the other members of the NRC panel voted yes because they believe the recommendations made after the disaster are well under way to be implemented, and the industry has learned those lessons.

According to scientists, those recommendations are mostly aimed at the current reactors, who adopt some of the same design from the Japanese one. New constructions like these two new reactors are different. The CEO of Southern Company said “There will be issues that apply to the U.S. nuclear fleet, but they apply much more closely to the current fleet, not this newest generation of nuclear technology.” Still, not everyone is on the same side. The Union of Concerned Scientists, a group of scientists that say they want improved security in the nuclear standards, said that it’s too soon to be approving new reactors, and more time is needed to fully comprehend what happened in the Tsunami disaster. The Obama administration is for nuclear power, and as such now that the decision has been made, it’s unlikely to be repelled. Construction has already begun and the new reactors are expected to be online in 2016.

In the end, it seems like an increase to the US nuclear fleet is going to happen, and older coal plants may see themselves being replaced by even more nuclear reactors in the future. The public concerns are apparently being addressed, and all of the reactors around the country are being checked by regulators to make sure they are compliant with the latest regulations. Nuclear power currently provides around 20% of the energy in the US, and is likely to grow in the future.

ABI Research Thrusts U.S. Ahead in Photovoltaic Installations

The United States is ready to push aside Italy, Germany and Japan as being the home of the largest market for photovoltaic (PV) installations. ABI Research‘s Global Photovoltaic Cells and Module Markets study predicts that in year 2013, the United States will have more PV installation than any other country on the globe. Now, that is a lot of PV installations.

According to the recent study, an estimated 900 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity went online during 2010 in the United States’ PV market. This number is expected to nearly triple in 2011. The growth will only be expected to continue over the next few years. Experts predict that there will be an increase of 5 gigawatts installed during 2013 in the United States.

Increased incentives at both the federal and state level will drive much of the growth. Thirty separate U.S. states have already implemented renewable energy standards (RES) or renewable portfolio standards (RPS) – targets for major utilities to reach by either purchasing a percentage of their energy from renewable energy sources or generating. California has an RPS target of 33 percent by 2020 and will most likely be the first state to actually introduce feed-in tariffs for PV power generation.

Actually, renewable energy technologies are growing exponentially in the utility, industrial and commercial sectors. And government is playing a huge role as well, even the United States military is looking into PV solutions to power supplies for equipment and troops.

ABI Research is a market intelligence company that specializes in global connectivity and emerging technology. Their special blend of quantitative forecasting and trends analysis provides forward-looking insight for countless decision makers in the technology industry each year. ABI Research, the sole intelligence firm dedicated to emerging trends in technology and connectivity, has a deliberately designed focus on specific and complimentary practice areas which provide our clients with an unrivaled multidisciplinary integration as well as an in-depth perspective on today’s technology markets.

They conduct their research according to a rigorous 14-step process which leverages organizational teamwork, know-how, centralized planning, decentralized intelligence gathering and experienced research and general management which has evolved over 21 years and continues to adapt to the rapid.

Green is NOT the new Red White and Blue

Green is NOT the new Red White and Blue Green is NOT the new red, white and blue, not on the stars and stripes, anyway. In late May, the Green Investment Bank was announced as the first ever public bank in the United Kingdom. With an initial £3 billion, GIB will invest in clean energy technology, with the goal of lessening the country’s reliance on fossil fuel and developing technologies to keep the UK competitive in the economies of the future.

Such support for green energy investment stretches across the Atlantic: A similar effort is being made in the United States, known as the Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA).

In England, the Green Investment Bank received support from all corners: from green-minded advocates, from private sector businesses, from trade unionists and top-level ministers alike; even while fiscal austerity measures have insisted on sharp cuts across government programs.

In America, insiders on Capitol Hill have been doubtful that an American clean energy bank will be established any time soon – largely due to the current political stalemate in the US Congress and a much different public perception of the global energy crisis.

Emily Baker, the vice president for federal policy at the National Venture Capital Association, told Alex Wagner of Huffington Post that “when it comes to the commercial side, VCs can’t provide the capital – and it’s too risky for commercial and investment banks…no question the issue has gotten even more complicated than it was…now that Republicans took control of the U.S. House of

Representatives, her group is “trying to help Congress members connect the dots on how this is an investment that will pay long-term dividends…Everybody had been behind the GIB.

Whether or not American politicians are willing to take an affirmative position on an issue which many do not even think exists is doubtful at best. Especially with new presidential elections around the corner, the time for change in the sector may be an awkward one; and for bi-partisan greenies, it can be argued that Obama might not have done enough for

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is taking impressed by the move toward a low carbon economy in the United Kingdom.

The Obama “BTU II ” Energy Bill – Right for the Times?

With America still in a deep recession and more than 3.6 million jobs lost during the past 8 months, the last thing most people want to know about is a new government energy bill that will result in people paying even more for fuel for their cars and for electricity and other fuels to cool their homes this summer and provide ample heating this coming winter.

Pres. Barack Obama in EgyptEnter the Obama Administration’s new “Carbon Tax” or “Green Energy” tax bill which is supposed to discourage Americans against using excessive amounts of carbon based energy, i.e. energy powered by carbon based fossil fuels, in order to encourage them to begin switching over to alternative and renewable energy sources, such as solar power, hydrogen gas, and other similar fuels.

The main problem in doing this, according to opponents of the bill, which includes virtually all Republican Congressmen and women and Senators (as well as many Democrats) is that Americans are simply not ready to switch to these new fuels – as they simply aren’t available yet. And the costs to American tax payers for increased fuel prices and higher overall taxes is estimated to run to more than $150 billion over the next ten years, or an average of about $3,100 per household.

The new bill is planned in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2050. Energy companies using carbon based fuels will have to obtain a special permit from the U.S. government in order to produce electricity by using carbon based fuels.

Proponents of the new bill, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, claim that the gradual switch over to clean technology and carbon less fuels will create millions of new jobs. There might be some truth in that claim, and it will also mean that the switch over to new energy sources will result in millions of Americans losing their jobs as well. The proposed bill is also said by many to be reminiscent of the Clinton administration’s BTU Energy Bill in 1993 when Democrats passed a bill, advocated by then Vice President Al Gore, that would have taxed the amount of energy used by measuring British Thermal Units, or BTUs in both homes and industries. This would have resulted in taxes on energy used going up considerably, and as a result was defeated by Congress. The new bill is even being called by many opponents as the BTU II Bill.

While there is little doubt that Americana must rely less on fossil fuels, much of which is imported from the Middle East, those opposed to the new bill say that the process must be done gradually, and especially not during an economic crises like the one Americans are currently going through. It will take a long time before most Americans will be traveling about in total electric cars, or ones fueled by hydrogen or by water (which every chemistry student knows is composed of 2 atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen).