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United States a Net Exporter of Solar Technology, to the Tune of $1.9 Billion

Positive trade balance with China a key piece of solar picture

1 min read
United States a Net Exporter of Solar Technology, to the Tune of $1.9 Billion

A new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association and Greentech Media Research showed that the United States was a net exporter of solar energy products in 2010, with a total positive balance of US $1.88 billion.

The United States had a solar energy positive trade balance with China that alone accounted for as much as $540 million. According to the report, $2.5 billion in polysilicon was exported from the United States; the material is the primary feedstock used in manufacturing crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells.

The report notes that though finished solar modules tend to be used as a benchmark for the health of the industry, a full 50 percent of solar energy–related revenue came from so-called "soft costs": site preparation, labor, permitting, financing, and others. And this is interesting: Though the country's largest export was polysilicon, its largest import was finished PV modules; $2.4 billion-worth of these were imported in 2010.

The $1.88 billion positive balance marks an amazing increase of more than 100 percent over the previous year. The United States was still a net exporter in 2009, but with a positive balance of $723 million.

(Image via SEIA/GTM Research)

The Conversation (0)
This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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