Hu Jintao, president of China, the dominant producer of solar panels in the world, arrives in Washington, DC, for a State visit Tuesday. He arrives just days after one of America’s largest producers of solar panels — Evergreen Solar — announced that it was, according to The New York Times, “closing its main American factory, laying off the 800 workers by the end of March and shifting production to a joint venture with a Chinese company in central China. Evergreen cited the much higher government support available in China.”

That should make for some interesting dinner conversation at The White House. It should also be the talk of Washington this week.

America has an opportunity to rebuild its economic preeminence through scientific innovation — and solar energy conversion should be a high priority, given our scientific and technical expertise, our wealth of sunshine especially in the Southwest, and our availability of skilled workers who want and deserve jobs. The question is: Will the U.S. government support the American people in that quest?

In announcing the Massachusetts plant closing, Evergreen Solar’s President & CEO Michael El-Hillow stated: “Solar manufacturers in China have received considerable government and financial support and, together with their low manufacturing costs, have become price leaders within the industry. While the United States and other western industrial economies are beneficiaries of rapidly declining installation costs of solar energy, we expect the United States will continue to be at a disadvantage from a manufacturing standpoint.”

And Evergreen Solar is not the only U.S. solar panel manufacturer cutting back. Solyndra, a California-based designer and manufacturer of solar photovoltaic systems, announced in November that it would shut one of its two American plants and delay expansion of the other. Ironically, Solyndra was named in 2010 as “One of the 50 Most Innovative Companies in the World” by MIT’s Technology Review magazine and one of the “Top 10 Venture-backed Clean-Tech Companies” by The Wall Street Journal.

source: huffingtonpost

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