The third largest manufacturer of solar panels in the U.S. is shuttering its main American factory, laying off 800 employees, and moving production to China. The NY Times article covering the background of this situation provides a sorely needed sense of scale to policy discussions regarding American investment in renewable energy infrastructure:
Chinese solar panel manufacturers accounted for slightly over half the world’s production last year. Their share of the American market has grown nearly sixfold in the last two years, to 23 percent in 2010 and is still rising fast, according to GTM Research, a renewable energy market analysis firm in Cambridge, Mass.
In addition to solar energy, China just passed the United States as the world’s largest builder and installer of wind turbines.
Ian A. Bowles, the former energy and environment chief for [Massachusetts] Gov. Deval L. Patrick… said the federal government had not helped the American industry enough or done enough to challenge Chinese government subsidies for its industry….
“The federal government has brought a knife to a gun fight,” Mr. Bowles said. “Its support is completely out of proportion to the support displayed by China — and even to that in Europe.”