Take a look at this story in today’s NYT. (No it’s not by Matt Wald, thank goodness.) The third largest solar panel producer in the US, Evergreen Solar, is moving to China, laying off 800 Massachusetts production workers.
Federal and state governments continue to provide massive subsidies to the coal industry. WV’s state government is now providing the same kinds of subsidies to the natural gas drilling industry by allowing drillers to destroy our land and water.
But have the federal and state governments done much at all to promote the installation of solar panels on homes and businesses in the US? Massachusetts gave Evergreen lots of tax breaks for their factory, but if they can’t sell solar panels because US demand isn’t there, the company’s only choice is to move to a country that wants their product.
While demand remains relatively low in the US, US installers face shortages from US suppliers. That’s because demand for solar panels is booming in other countries, like China. There still isn’t a single operating offshore wind turbine in US waters. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has pulled out all the stops to install as much solar generating capacity as possible, as well as investing millions in offshore wind development.
US government policy since the Carter administration has been extremely hostile to renewable energy generation. We are now reaping the fruits of this energy policy failure. Evergreen Solar will go where they are wanted, and that obviously doesn’t involve the US. We’ll stay here and cling to our obsolete power systems.