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Senator Wyden issues policy brief on China's subsidy-driven solar market at SolarWorld event

Oregon Democratic senator tours SolarWorld with Republican Energy Committee peer

HILLSBORO, Ore., Oct. 14, 2011 – During a visit to the U.S. headquarters of SolarWorld, the largest U.S. manufacturer of solar panels for more than 35 years, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) released a policy brief that highlighted what he described as a troubling development for domestic manufacturing of renewable energy technology: Even as worldwide demand for solar panels has rapidly mounted, a "myriad of subsidies" have enabled China’s solar manufacturers to seize world market share by charging below-market prices.

Ron Wydan and Lisa Murkowsi visit SolarWorld in Hillsboro, Oregon
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The policy brief, titled "China's Grab for Green Jobs," concludes: "In short, China's gains in the clean energy industry – particularly solar – are coming at the expense of American and other world producers of this technology, who would otherwise benefit from the increased demand."

Wyden, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee's Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness, issued the brief during a meeting with SolarWorld officials and suppliers, civic officials and reporters at SolarWorld's manufacturing campus in Hillsboro. He was accompanied by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Wyden and Murkowski – expected to be the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Energy Committee in the next Congress – visited SolarWorld as part of a day spent learning more about emerging energy technologies.

The two senators also toured SolarWorld's brand-new panel-assembly factory. On SolarWorld's 97-acre campus, the company operates the equivalent of four factories for all of the process steps of producing crystalline silicon solar panels: crystallizing silicon, cutting crystal into wafers, turning wafers into solar cells, and assembling solar panels.

Senator Wyden's brief shows that imports of solar cells and panels from China into the United States roughly tripled between 2009 and 2010 and more than tripled once again so far this year, compared with the same period of last year. During the period from 2006 through 2010, the report says, "Nearly every global leader of solar energy technology production lost market share to China."

In the past 18 months, seven U.S. plants have shut down or downsized in six states, laying off workers in Arizona, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania.

Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., said China's gains have come even as the two countries' manufacturers share roughly the same production cost structure, when higher U.S. labor productivity and Chinese shipping costs are taken into account. "Government central planning and massive state subsidies and sponsorship," Brinser said, "have enabled these Chinese manufacturers to drive their products at artificially reduced prices into a wide-open U.S. market."

SolarWorld Real Value

SolarWorld manufactures and sells solar power solutions and in doing so contributes to a cleaner energy supply worldwide. As the largest solar producer in the United States and Europe, SolarWorld employs about 3,200 people and carries out production in Hillsboro, Ore., and Freiberg and Arnstadt, Germany. From the raw material silicon to solar wafers, cells and panels, SolarWorld manages all stages of production ‒ including its own research and development. The company maintains high social standards at all locations across the globe and is committed to resource- and energy-efficient production. Headquartered in Bonn, Germany, SolarWorld was founded in 1998 and has been publicly traded on the stock market since 1999. For more information, visit www.solarworld-usa.com.

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