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U.S. Posted a Trade Surplus in Solar Technologies, Study Finds via The New York Times

Published: August 29, 2011

HONG KONG — A study sponsored by the solar power industry has concluded that the United States ran a trade surplus of $1.88 billion in solar technologies last year, as exports of raw material and factory equipment for the solar sector outpaced imports of finished solar panels.

The report is clearly aimed at addressing worries about the rapid rise of Chinese solar panel manufacturers, who now represent 58 percent of the world’s solar panel manufacturing capacity.

American solar panel makers have been struggling, including Evergreen Solar, which filed for bankruptcy this month and had already moved early this year to shut down most of its production in the United States.

It takes up to two years for a conventional blue solar panel to produce as much electricity as it took to manufacture the device, prompting critics to suggest that solar panels in some ways resemble batteries as well as power generation technologies. Much of the electricity for making a solar panel goes into producing the main material, polysilicon.

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