Friedman’s latest column features a manufacturing firm that makes the machines that make solar panels. Where are their factories?
Not a single one is in America.
The reason that all these other countries are building solar-panel industries today is because most of their governments have put in place the three perquisites for growing a renewable energy industry: 1) any business or homeowner can generate solar energy; 2) if they decide to do so, the power utility has to connect them to the grid; and 3) the utility has to buy the power for a predictable period at a price that is a no-brainer good deal for the family or business putting the solar panels on their rooftop. [emphasis mine]
Regulatory, price and connectivity certainty, that is what Germany put in place, and that explains why Germany now generates almost half the solar power in the world today and, as a byproduct, is making itself the world-center for solar research, engineering, manufacturing and installation. With more than 50,000 new jobs, the renewable energy industry in Germany is now second only to its auto industry. One thing that has never existed in America — with our fragmented, stop-start solar subsidies — is certainty of price, connectivity and regulation on a national basis.
Read more about the U.S. byzantine renewable energy incentives and the contrast to the European feed-in tariff in our recent report, Feed-in Tariffs in America: Driving the Economy with Renewable Energy Policy that Works