Local weather Czar Kerry Desires Ex-Keystone Employees To Make Photo voltaic Panels. That Will Require Importing Much less China Photo voltaic Panels.

President’s Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry seen during a press conference last week. (Photo … [+] by Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

Getty Images

President Biden’s new “Climate Bazaar,” John Kerry, says laid-off workers in the fossil fuel industry should be able to easily transfer their skills to solar energy. He specifically said they could “make solar panels” instead of building the Keystone pipeline, which Biden canceled on the second day of his term at the White House.

“What President Biden wants to do is make sure these people make better decisions, that they have alternatives, that they can be the people that go to work to make the solar panels,” Kerry said.

But before anyone says “they can make solar panels” the new “learn to code” is just hold your fire on for a bit.

These can really be union paid jobs, and this is a growth industry as opposed to fossil fuels which is currently the most hated industry in Congress and the World Economic Forum’s jet set.

Solar jobs are manufacturing jobs that, unlike computer science, do not require STEM degrees from Stanford and MIT. I will never learn to program and build a blockchain platform or build the new hologram phone. I can barely get my laptop fan to stop spinning and making noise. But I bet I can learn to operate the machines that make solar cells and modules.

The key word here, however, is “do”. In fact, it’s the only word that matters.

If Kerry wants to encourage laid-off Keystone workers to manufacture solar panels, the government he works for must do something to protect the American market from a flood of Chinese solar panels.

Futuristic city

Digitally generated image of the futuristic city landscape with vertical gardens on top of skyscrapers and solar … [+] Panels, probably all made in China.


China: let’s be your green OPEC

Of the ten leading global solar module manufacturers, eight are Chinese. The only big US player is Ohio’s First Solar FSLR. They make the solar cells and modules that become the solar panels you see in the southwest desert, on California hills, and increasingly on American rooftops.

Hanwha Q-Cells from South Korea are manufactured here. Just like the Chinese company Jinko Solar, which now produces in Jacksonville, Florida. They settled mainly because of anti-dumping and countervailing tariffs on solar panels in the past Trump era. This has helped Q-Cells and First Solar to gain market here. Otherwise it is only imported from China. And if it is only about imports from China, only plumber appearances and the usual employee jobs of project planners, sales and engineering offices are offered.

“Make” is the only word that matters in Kerry’s comments.

If the US wants to do what the solar importers want – all Chinese – it is mostly a job for people who drill solar panels into roofs or wash them with Windex. (That’s a joke.)

That would be a terrible “green New Deal”. But it’s a damn good Red New Deal. (I just registered this as a trademark.)

China is expanding its solar energy production capacity.


An employee works in a solar module and parts factory in Jiujiangu in Jiangxi, central China … [+] Province on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. (Photo by Feature China / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Barcroft Media via Getty Images

“The recent wave of investments and announcements of capacity expansion by China’s largest solar manufacturer threatens the (US solar) recovery with massive overcapacities, which are driving producers out of business and establishing Chinese dominance in the entire supply chain of solar power generation,” says Jeff Ferry, chief economist for the Coalition for a Prosperous America, in a report released Jan. 28.

China’s large multinational solar companies like Jinko and JA Solar have announced new expansion projects across Southeast Asia as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s industrial strategy to dominate major Western supply chains.

The US and the European Union have told the Chinese leadership that they are afraid of melting ice and super storms, and China has replied, “Let’s be your green OPEC.”

As a result, China is now playing a key role in the EV battery supply chain (it controls many of the mined materials used to make battery cells). dominates solar supply chains; and replaces Europe as a contact point for wind turbines.

Many of the European brands like Vestas are now manufacturing in China, although that’s supposedly staying in China for now.

The solar industry publication, PV Tech, described the scale of solar expansion in China as “mind-boggling”.

In 2020, China was able to produce 90 gigawatts of solar panel electricity. This year they will have 180 gigawatts of installed capacity.

Brazil’s Itaipu Dam, the second largest hydroelectric dam in the world, which supplies more than half of the country with electricity, can generate 14 gigawatts of electricity.

China’s Three Gorges Dam, the largest in the world, has a capacity of 22.5 GW. China’s installed solar capacity is equivalent to 8 Three Gorges Dam if they were to reach their full capacity.

1366 Technologies

Massachusetts-based 1366 Technologies is building new solar technologies. Let the sun grow … [+] Production base, more than just innovation has to take place here. Innovations and then manufacturing in Asia won’t make Keystone employees “make solar panels”. (Photo by Rick Friedman / Corbis via Getty Images)

Corbis via Getty Images

Last year, the US had an installed capacity of 12.2 GW, led by First Solar and Q-Cells. This year an increase to 14.7 GW is expected. We take small steps. China makes Super Mario triple jumps.

US solar manufacturers have grown steadily over the past two years, thanks to the 2018 Section 201 tariffs, which were introduced to restrict global imports of solar modules not just from China.

There are roughly a dozen smaller companies bringing US innovation back to solar, and this has helped add another 5 GW of capacity. What usually happens is that the innovation takes place here and then is scaled up in Asia to bring the price down. China then markets it and the sector is dominated by service providers.

Many US manufacturers are aiming to expand production. But all of that will change when China floods the market in hopes of benefiting from Biden’s climate policies. More demand here is good for China because US companies are currently unable to meet this demand. You could invest in meeting that demand and creating more worker jobs, maybe even union jobs like those lost at Keystone.

Section 201 tariffs, which will soon be cut to 18%, may not be enough to protect U.S. suppliers who are slightly overpriced by anything made in China or Southeast Asia. In this case, the climate-friendly Biden administration “Build Back Better” will have to decide whether it should build its solar future here or import it and create jobs in China, Malaysia and Vietnam.

A growing bipartisan consensus on China has emerged, and that is evident in the Trump-to-Biden transition.

Both parties now acknowledge that the US must address the risk China poses to US economic and national security. Congress and the Trump administration have made strides over the past four years to correct profound imbalances in US-China relations, Florida Senator Marco Rubio said in a recent statement in the Washington Post.

“The choice for Biden is simple: support American workers and our national security, or support Wall Street and the CCP,” Rubio writes.

Janet Yellen, Anthony Blinken, Pete Buttigieg and Gina Raimondo cited climate change as a key element of their mandate in their new roles during Senate hearings on key cabinet members in Biden. In addition to domestic production, China was also discussed.

Solar is on the rise in the US. But everything is made in China, unless Washington has something that says, if you want to put solar panels in your home, you can buy them anywhere. However, if you’re the governor of a state looking to place solar panels on state land to generate electricity, everything from polysilicon to finished product should be made here. If this is not the case, the Keystone Pipeline employees will not get jobs in the manufacture of solar panels.

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