Alan King, General Manager, Canadian Solar
The biggest issue facing the global solar industry this year is market uncertainty. A lack of consistency in government support has created an atmosphere of uncertainty leading to project delays, price drops, and a decline in hiring and expansion plans. In the United States this is not new: the absence of a strong federal energy program and lack of standardization in state-to-state programs are issues we have dealt with for some time now. What is troubling is the lack of a federal energy policy and the willingness to enact tariffs that hinder trade rather than encourage it.
Solar deployment creates jobs, which is the single most pressing need in the U.S. today. The stronger the industry becomes, the more jobs we create. This was clearly demonstrated in 2011 when U.S. job growth in solar far exceeded that of most other industries. Unfortunately, rather than recognizing this and supporting further growth, the industry has been sidetracked by unnecessary and unwise trade action.
We should be finding positive methods to address and encourage global trade rather than implementing punitive tariffs. One strategy for government support with the potential for tremendous impact is to increase the current investment tax credit for projects containing U.S.-manufactured content. This activity would help level the playing field for U.S. manufacturers without harming the growth of the industry as a whole. A 10 to 15 percent increase in the ITC could also encourage foreign companies to set up manufacturing in the U.S., thus creating domestic manufacturing jobs.
The industry needs to remain committed to serving the needs of our valued partners by offering competitively priced, high-quality products. We should work together not just to maintain the gains we have made over the last decade, but also to increase the adoption of solar as a mainstream source of clean renewable energy.
As general manager of Canadian Solar USA (NASDAQ: CSIQ), Alan King is spearheading the company’s commitment to one of the fastest-growing solar markets in the world. He has hands-on experience with U.S. solar policy on both a national and state level and is actively involved in the Solar Alliance and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).