UC Berkeley's Dan Kammen has a strong editorial in the SF Chronicle focused on solar investments. He points out that solar installation creates five times more jobs than the investment of a similar capacity natural gas plant. I didn't know that. He also returns to one of my favorite themes.
"Solar simply doesn't provide a lot of manufacturing jobs in any country, and the number is dwindling further with automation. That's why blocking imports is beside the point. The jobs of tens of thousands of Americans employed in the solar industry, however, rely on the supply of quality solar panels from many nations, including China.
China certainly should do a better job of reporting on its subsidy programs, in accordance with World Trade Organization requirements, and the U.S. government should demand such compliance. However, subsidy policies may have their place, as they do in the United States, to help build a strong, job-producing solar energy industry.
Even Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who supports a petition to punish China for unfair trading practices, has acknowledged that punitive tariffs against Chinese solar panels would immediately result in job losses to American installers. Longer-term benefits are even less clear.
This raises the question of why the U.S. government would attempt to effectively pick technology winners by applying punitive tariffs against Chinese companies when what is needed is to encourage competition among all promising companies."
Dr. Kammen is a University of Chicago free trader! We need more globalization and international trade in order to bring about the "green economy". When I wrote about this subject for the NY Times blog, I received a lot of crazy comments. Everyone should read my paper with Aparna Sawhney. on international trade in renewables equipment!