Shining Light On Solar

VVV at The Economist upends the conventional wisdom on the US/China green-energy trade, noting that in 2011 the US actually exported more solar, wind and smart-grid technology to China than it imported:

One important explanation for this is that while China has strengths in large-scale assembly and mass manufacturing, it lacks the innovation to come up with high-value inputs. So American ingenuity is required to supply Chinese factories with such things as polysilicon and wafers for photovoltaic cells, and the fibreglass and control systems used in wind turbines.

When Chinese solar firm Suntech flirted with bankruptcy last week, Todd Woody explored another wrinkle of the US-Chinese solar relationship:

Look up at a rooftop array in California and it’s likely the solar panels came from China. Between 2007 and 2010, for instance, China’s share of the California market jumped from 2% to 46%. If Suntech and other Chinese companies go bankrupt, warranties on their solar panels will likely become worthless, leaving solar installers like SolarCity liable for any future product failures.