Chinese technocrats set out to create an industry that would dominate the world, and they succeeded. They aided solar cell manufacturers with easy credit from state banks—perhaps as much as $18 billion of cheap loans—and, some say, subsidies. As a result of central and local government support, Chinese manufacturers began to expand rapidly. Chinese competitors now own 70% of the world’s wafer-producing capacity.
Make that overcapacity. “Massive subsidies and state intervention have stimulated overcapacity more than 20 times total Chinese consumption and close to double total global demand,” said Milan Nitzschke, president of EU ProSun, in a statement released late last month. The company alleges that 90% of Chinese production had to be exported and that Beijing used subsidies to keep its manufacturers in business.
The powerful Chinese National Development and Reform Commission wants to see two-thirds of panel makers go out of business. Only the largest producers, which are presently nonviable, will survive.
In short, central government technocrats, to salvage their industrial policy, will now have to destroy what they worked so hard to create.