"Glut of Solar Panels Poses a New Threat to China"

"BEIJING -- China in recent years established global dominance in renewable energy, its solar panel and wind turbine factories forcing many foreign rivals out of business and its policy makers hailed by environmentalists around the world as visionaries. But now China’s strategy is in disarray. Though worldwide demand for solar panels and wind turbines has grown rapidly over the last five years, China’s manufacturing capacity has soared even faster, creating enormous oversupply and a ferocious price war."

"The result is a looming financial disaster, not only for manufacturers but for state-owned banks that financed factories with approximately $18 billion in low-rate loans and for municipal and provincial governments that provided loan guarantees and sold manufacturers valuable land at deeply discounted prices.

China’s biggest solar panel makers are suffering losses of up to $1 for every $3 of sales this year, as panel prices have fallen by three-fourths since 2008. Even though the cost of solar power has fallen, it still remains triple the price of coal-generated power in China, requiring substantial subsidies through a tax imposed on industrial users of electricity to cover the higher cost of renewable energy."

Keith Bradsher reports for the New York Times October 4, 2012.
 

Source: NY Times, 10/05/2012