U.S.-Subsidized German Solar Company Demanding U.S. Protection From Chinese Competition

Lars Larson
By Lars Larson | October 26, 2011 | 2:58 PM EDT

When I interviewed SolarWorld President Gordon Brinser, complained that his German-owned company (which gets millions in subsidies from U.S. taxpayers) has to compete with a Chinese company getting subsidies from China.

He says the U.S. government should step in and do something.

Taxpayers should be outraged.  Governments at every level (city, county, state and federal) are wasting their tax money buying solar capacity that produces electricity at rates as much as 10 times what the consumer pays (think of a machine that makes gasoline at 40 dollars per gallon).

Now we have a fight between a German company (SolarWorld) that has been soaking up millions in tax subsidies, making a product that only sells when two-thirds of its cost is paid for with taxpayer subsidies (the solar cells being installed on homes and businesses).

SolarWorld says it’s not fair that a German Company getting American government subsidies should have to compete with a Chinese company making the same product, subsidized by the Chinese.

Of course, 42 cents of every dollar of American subsidy is borrowed (much of it from the Chinese).

If anyone should complain, it’s the American taxpayer who is footing the bill.  Making electric power more expensive (as Candidate Obama promised, “electric rates will necessarily skyrocket”) is a way to send more jobs overseas (to places like China, which is sensibly building coal and nuclear power plants).

Putting solar cells on rooftops does not make them more efficient or less expensive.  In fact, as I pointed out to the SolarWorld CEO, economists will tell you that subsidies retard technological innovation.

Here's my full interview with SolarWorld's president.