It’s widely held that China has been beating U.S. solar panel prices by handing out lavish subsidies to producers and keeping labor costs very cheap. But it may not be so. And that could be good news for the U.S. solar market.
President Obama’s making good on a promise this week to restore solar panels to the White House roof. The installation of an unknown number of “American made” solar panels began this week
Half Moon Ventures, a Chicago-based developer of solar and wind energy products, unveiled a rooftop solar installation the size of two pro football fields at i.Park Hudson, an office/industrial park in Yonkers, N.Y.
The solar project is expected to produce 1.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough to power more than 120 homes and equivalent in reducing air pollution to taking 160 cars off the road.
The U.S. Department of Commerce decision to hit Chinese solar panel makers with significant import tariffs has shaken up the solar community. Bonn-based SolarWorld, which maintains the largest U.S. solar manufacturing plant and had asked for an investigation of Chinese “dumping” of solar panels, was pleased with yesterday’s ruling. The anti-dumping and anti-subsidy fees announced by the government will help level the playing field between U.S. and Chinese-manufactured photovoltaic cells and panels, a company official said.
Solar panels may soon be able to rely on more abundant minerals and metals, than some of the rare elements used today, scientists meeting in Philadelphia this week said.
These advances could make solar energy more affordable and easier to integrate into buildings, and hasten the day when the U.S. could get 50-100 percent of its electricity for buildings from the sun, the researchers said during a panel at the American Chemical Society meeting.
“Sustainability involves developing technology that can be productive over the long-term, using resources in ways that meet today’s needs without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their needs,” said Harry A. Atwater, Ph.D., a physicist at the California Institute of Technology, in a statement released by the ACS.
A group of environmentalists who wanted solar panels installed on the White House were able to meet with administration staffers today, but they did not get a commitment for a solar array at the first family’s residence.
The team representing people who’d signed a “Put Solar On The White House” petition included students from Unity College in Maine which has been using a solar array installed on the White House during the Carter Administration. The panels Jimmy Carter had installed were dismantled, and ultimately relocated to Unity College, during the Reagan Administration. The Put Solar On It group carried a remnant of that array to the White House to help make their point that President Obama could again light the way.
While many high school science students labor over the usual time-tested science projects, dissecting frogs or building toothpick bridges, a group of Houston students will soon get a cross-curriculum education in cutting-edge solar technologies.