Solar Ties Between U.S. and China Strained as Projects Stall
Friday, August 13th 2010 12:00 PM
By GetSolar Staff.
It was supposed to be a landmark signal of international cooperation on renewable energy, uniting rival industries in two of the world's largest manufacturers.
Instead, a proposed 2,000-megawatt solar installation in the Inner Mongolia region of China, which was supposed to be built by Arizona's First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR), appears to be more or less stuck, unable to achieve traction. The Washington Post reported Thursday on the complex web of economic and political issues that have mired this cooperative venture and left its future uncertain.
The plan for the installation was announced last year, becoming one of the chief successes of President Barack Obama's visit to China in November. Construction was set to begin June 1, but that date slipped by.
Now, local government officials say they want to get a competitive bidding process. The Post reports that the problem may be internal pressure from Chinese firms that want the contract.
Meanwhile, American firms are complaining that China isn't playing fair. For instance, the Post says, a Chinese firm recently put $1.5 billion into a 36,000-acre wind farm in Texas, giving all the equipment contracts to Chinese firms.
Why, U.S. renewable energy firms want to know, do they have to compete with Chinese firms (which typically have lower costs), when those firms won't let them into Chinese markets?
The local government, though, said that everyone was being treated equally. First Solar just needs to "go through the bidding process" like its Chinese counterparts, Gao Gengui of the Ordos government development commission told the Post.