We'd have to be crazy not to want more solar power - the Sun is limitless energy and, as time and research tackle the science and technology issues, it will get a lot more efficient.
In 2005, when President Bush and a Republican Congress (you know, the people who hated both science and clean energy) authorized the solar investment tax credit, solar panel imports were a paltry $21.3 million. The credit was renewed in 2008 and last year imports of solar panels were in the range of $3 billion. Yes, that's a 'b' and not an 'm'.
People are adopting solar power but we have a set of policies that are putting that money in all the wrong places; the people putting in the home installations are mostly upper middle class and rich while our own government is trying to compete against the products people want the most. It would be kind of like if the government starting subsidizing companies to compete with Apple for iPads by trying to make them cheaper than China can. It won't work as long as we have environmental standards and a cheap labor force.
The high-profile failures of the administration trying to pick winners and losers in the clean energy market are too numerous for a link, but they responded to them not by accepting that they were pursuing the wrong technology at the wrong time, or that they should not be playing venture capitalist with taxpayer money, but contending that the Chinese were issuing low cost loans.
In other words, exactly what we were doing. But the administration has put a tariff on China over it, a protectionist scheme to try and bolster American companies artificially, and that will only get worse in May when they increase the tariffs. The result will be to cut the legs off of the solar energy movement in the US.
I did a guest op-ed with Alex Berezow of RealClearScience on Forbes to discuss the issue:
Obama's Solar Policy: If You Can't Beat the Chinese, Tax Them by Alex Berezow and Hank Campbell, Forbes March 28, 2012
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