As you well know, a lot of things are made in China, mostly because the cost of producing thing is much lower there than elsewhere. Recently the country has seen a boom in renewable energy manufacturing, however a recently released report shows that almost all of China’s renewable energy manufacturing businesses are breaking World Trade Organization laws — adopted and followed by most countries — by receiving giant government subsidies and dirt cheap land while still exporting the majority of their goods.
Basically the deal is this: in order to make it easy for businesses in China to attract investors so they can start making renewable energy technology — which is thankfully in high demand — the Chinese government is providing high valued land at a discount, giving factories low-interest loans and then not actually making them pay those loans back. The World Trade Organization — which China has belonged to for nine years — bans almost all subsidies and government assistance to exporters. This was put in place so that governments wouldn’t be able to help private business gain control of the world market. If one government gives their businesses large subsidies while another government does not, this makes the playing field of commerce extremely unfair. If a country is found doing this, other governments are allowed to impose huge tariffs on their goods to right the wrong.
Now, there are a lot of sides to this argument. There’s the idea that at least they’re breaking the law and producing green technology that will save energy — but there’s another side to that coin. By shipping that technology thousands of miles they are adding emissions to the overall life impact of solar panels and wind turbines that might lessen their end-of-life total earth energy savings.
Although the inexpensive renewable energy tech coming out of China might be helping early adoption by lowering costs, it is probably reducing the helpful emissions savings that the world might have if each country made this tech at home. The moral of the story is: let’s get on board with President Obama’s Labor Day game plan to increase the amount of green energy tech made here on US soil.