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Trade Wars: The Reaction

The other shoe has dropped in the looming trade war over alleged Chinese dumping of solar panels on the American market. A coalition of manufacturers and project developers has formed to counter the move toward tariffs that was launched three weeks ago,

The group held its coming out news conference Tuesday on the same day that hearings were held in Washington to begin the process of determining if alleged dumping of solar cells into the United States is occurring.

A petition to begin a trade case against the Chinese was filed during the recent Solar Power International conference by a coalition led by SolarWorld AG’s U.S. unit, which filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington. It has six manufacturing partners who so far have remained anonymous, fearing retribution.

So the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), was formed in response, initially representing 25 organizations and more than 9,200 jobs in the U.S. solar industry, it says.
CASE was formed in response to an anti-trade action filed by Germany-based SolarWorld with the U.S. government that it says threatens the entire U.S. solar industry.

“If they succeed, prices for solar will go up, demand for solar energy will go down, and the U.S. market will be significantly undermined,” said Kevin Lapidus, senior vice president of solar plant developer and operator Sun Edison.

The industry expected about 2.6 gigawatts of solar generation to be installed next year, representing an investment of $10 billion to $12 billion, which Lapidus says, the complaint puts at risk.

He also said declining government support for solar projects over time has an impact on the cost of installed solar, making developers seeks to lower costs  aggressively to remain competitive. Lapidus added that costs reductions are occurring throughout the supply chain, not just solar cells, which is the focus of the trade complaint.

According to CASE: "Global competition is making affordable solar energy a reality in America and around the world. SolarWorld's action to block or dramatically curtail solar cell imports from China places that goal at risk. Protectionism harms the future of solar energy in America and negatively impacts consumers, ratepayers, and over 100,000 American solar jobs. The coalition is committed to growing a domestic solar industry, promoting innovation, and making solar an affordable option for all Americans."

The U.S. International Trade Commission will decide soon whether there is enough evidence to launch a formal investigation. The Commerce Department would take up the case a few months after that.

In other words, this is not ending quickly or quietly.

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