I’ve always liked SolarWorld-U.S. panels. In the first place because they’re American-made. More important though, is because of the quality construction, reliable energy production, and because they carry some of the longest warranties in the industry. SolarWorld has been in business for more than 40 years. They know what they’re doing and are very good at it.
The last several years SolarWorld has been under constant assault from Chinese manufacturers. Massive quantities of cheap panels have been dumped on both the European and American markets. It’s hard to compete on cost with companies that house 8 workers in a 20-foot shipping container and pay them less than $25 for a 12-hour day. I’ve lived in Central-Asia and believe me when I say that, for many, $25 a day is very good pay! Consequently, it’s been difficult to recommend SolarWorld panels lately. Market forces have changed and the company has been going through some tough times. In fact, their German parent-company recently declaring bankruptcy.
A Short History Lesson
It’s a scary situation! About 20 years ago the last manufacturer of American-made televisions went through the same kind of challenges. They sued the Chinese Government in the World Court and eventually won their case. Unfortunately, the decision was handed down almost a year after the U.S. company had been driven into bankruptcy. As I remember it, Walmart even filed a Friend-of-the-Court brief on the side of the Chinese. Americans have become addicted to low prices. In a market we invented and led the world – today there are no American-made TVs left. It’s good to remember that, to afford even low prices you have to have a job.
The Chinese Government has invested billions of dollars in their solar industry; but when we hear of U.S. investment, the only name we ever hear is Solyndra, where we, as taxpayers, lost our proverbial shirts (as well as a cool $535 million). The untold story of Solyndra is that they really did have industry-changing technology; so to combat them, the Chinese Government began dumping silicon on the world market, making Solyndra’s product to costly and driving them out of business.
It’s important to understand economic history, because I constantly hear talk of unfair trade practices killing American manufacturing. In that light, it’s good to see that SolarWorld-U.S. is fighting back. Not only have they been lobbying for tariffs in an effort to reduce Chinese dumping (it has to be added that the Chinese Government is believed to be spending millions on lobbying to prevent tariffs) but, SolarWorld has also just added third-party coverage for their warranties. What this means for customers is that if SolarWorld loses its fight against foreign dumping and similarly destructive trade practices, at least their customers will still have the security of knowing that their warranties will be supported.
I’m a strong advocate for American-Made solar, but before I can jump completely back on the SolarWorld bandwagon I’ll have to learn a little more about these new programs and benefits, but for me, the spotlight is definitely back on SolarWorld.