China’s Huge Solar Development; US Solar Companies’ Soaring Stock Prices

Two of solar power industry’s biggest potential markets, China and USA have seen tremendous development in recent years. According to Peter Moskowitz, digital producer of Al Jazeera America, support from both country’s governments and investors and increased solar capacity has resulted in a massive jump in stock prices in the USA and huge solar development in China.

Last year, China’s cabinet, the State Council has stated that the country aimed to more than quadruple the country’s solar power generating capacity to 35 gigawatts by 2015. The statement published by the council on its website stated that the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is taking steps to “promote the healthy development of the photovoltaic industry,” states Mr. Moskovitz.

He added that the Chinese government also announced the development of a 1-gigawatt solar panel field in the middle of the desert in the country’s remote Xinjiang province.

USA too is witnessing landmark advancement in the solar sector. According to Richard Blackwell, reporter at The Globe and Mail, companies such as SunPower Corp., First Solar Inc. and SunEdison Inc. saw their shares rise between 60 per cent and 250 per cent in 2013. Chinese companies that trade on U.S. exchanges witnessed an increase of almost 340 percent. This includes Yingli Green Energy, Trina Solar and JinkoSolar.  The US installation solar power company, SolarCity also saw a sevenfold increase in stock price since it went public just over a year ago. Other solar stocks are also surging.

Despite these great strides, some analysts question the commitment of the U.S. and China toward a greener future. Mr. Moskowitz states that there is a question of sustainability that we need to consider. Previously government’s involvement in the solar industry caused trade friction between China and the US, and more recently, the European Union. China has been accused of dumping underpriced solar panels on foreign markets, making it harder for other countries to develop their own solar industries. As a follow up to their original trade complaint initiated in 2011, SolarWorld Industries America, a German corporation that manufacturers panels in the US, filed broader anti-dumping cases with the US Commerce Department to restructure the way it imposes duties on solar imports. This could have adverse effect on the Chinese solar panel market states Al Jazeera America.

The rising stock prices in USA are also met with skepticism. Some stock analysts think the current surge in prices on Wall Street can’t be maintained forever, according to the New York Times. It added that the companies like SolarCity are growing too fast to do its work well.

The biggest threat to the growing solar industry comes from utility companies that are campaigning to take away government incentives that will make solar power affordable for average homeowners. Without those tax breaks and credits, the solar industry could struggle.