Here at The Motley Fool we usually try to stay out of political discourse, but on the eve of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington, D.C., one major topic needs to be addressed: solar subsidies. Much has been made in the media about China's subsidies for solar manufacturers and that nation "taking" clean technology jobs the U.S. desperately wants to have at home. I'm here to make the case that we in fact need those subsidies to make the U.S. a "green" country.
If we truly want to become a greener society, it is in our best interest to allow China to provide subsidies to Chinese solar manufacturers. We cannot produce panels that come close to competing with Asian supply, as we saw with the closing of Evergreen Solar's
One reason the U.S should not fear a Chinese subsidy is the very nature of solar energy. Unlike fossil fuels, the energy itself comes from the sun, so there is no ongoing dependence on manufacturers once the panel is installed. In fact, there are ongoing jobs created at any solar installation that would benefit the U.S. economy (although it offsets similar fossil fuel jobs). The Chinese subsidies aren't holding back U.S. manufacturing: They're helping build a U.S. green energy industry. Without them, solar would be years behind where it is today.
Large Chinese manufacturers have a lot hanging in the balance. Trina Solar
Chinese companies are not alone in leveraging inexpensive labor in Asia to fuel low-cost panels. First Solar
As both an investor in solar and a certified tree hugger, I hope the U.S. doesn't push China too hard on solar subsidies. We need to realize they're helping us achieve our goal of a greener future.
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Fool contributor Travis Hoium owns shares of First Solar and SunPower. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings, or follow his Motley Fool CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.
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