California's Solar Power Comes from China

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    NEWSLETTERS

    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    The 102-foot-long solar-powered Turanor PlanetSolar sits at dock in Miami Beach near downtown Miami Monday, Nov. 29 2010. The vessel will continue on its round-the-Globe expedition to Cancun in time for the World Climate Conference. The boat was built with the goal of circumnavigating the globe without burning a thimble of gasoline. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

    Sunlight travels 93 million miles to reach Earth, and when those rays gets to California, they'll hit solar panels that traveled 7,000 miles from China.

    Increasingly, the solar industry is finding financial incentives to relocate to China. One recent study estimates that four Chinese manufacturers account for more than a third of of the modules installed under a California solar incentive, according to Grist.

    Those manufacturers include Yingli Green Energy, a relative newcomer which in only two years has jumped from comprising 1.2 percent of the market to 17.5 percent.

    California's solar industry doesn't compare well. The largest domestic supplier, based in Silicon Valley, accounts for just 6.3 percent of the solar incentives.

    But that could change in the coming years, with massive solar installations planned for deserts. Local companies have taken an early lead on those projects. In some cases, Chinese firms have established partnerships with American companies to build desert solar arrays.

    And solar power takes on additional importance abroad. In Afghanistan, a Marine company that installed solar panels on its tents found that their need for diesel dropped dramatically, saving them from dangerous refueling missions.