The White House Biden has directives issued in the face of “the threat posed by the military-industrial complex of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)” His the national security team lists China as the country’s best international challenger. In response to the “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity” of the communist nation, the Biden administration prevails a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics next year.
Yet in this context, a number of critics and even former supporters of his administration have questioned why President Biden is pushing green energy policy as part of the Build Back Better plan which, in their words, would amount to “Essentially a trillion dollar transfer. payment to China? “
At the heart of Biden’s Build Back Better spending plan is a federally-funded push to get Americans to rely more on electricity – especially electricity produced by wind and solar – than on electricity. fossil fuels like natural gas. The problem for the administration and proponents of increased deployment of renewable resources is that in today’s market, China dominates the production of solar panels, batteries and other green energy technologies – including manufactured products. in the Xinjiang region, the site of forced labor and other practices protested by the diplomatic boycott.
The Biden administration and Democratic leaders in Congress are showcasing the national jobs they believe will be created by the spending of the green energy initiatives bill. The proposal contains hundreds of millions of dollars in expanded tax credits for solar and wind power, as well as the purchase of electric vehicles, among other green energy spending. These are industries dominated by Chinese mining and manufacturing.
According to Bloomberg News, China manufactures three quarters of the world’s solar panels. The United States produces 1 percent. More than 80% of new photovoltaic cell manufacturing capacities are under construction in China. The United States has not added any new cellular capacity since 2009.
And China produces 98% of the wafers and ingots used in solar panels. It has 227,000 MW of wafer manufacturing capacity; the rest of the world has 18,000 MW combined.
As a result, an increase in solar panels in the United States will necessarily end up funding Chinese manufacturing.
But China is doing much more than carving out the lion’s share of the world’s solar panels. It also dominates the extraction and production of materials used in the construction of panels.
For example, polysilicon, a high purity form of silicon, is an essential raw material in the solar photovoltaic (PV) supply chain. As of 2017, more than 90% of the new polysilicon processing capacity has been built in China.
About half of the world’s polysilicon supply comes from China’s Xinjiang region, where, according to human rights groups and the US and UK governments, Uyghur Muslims have been subjected to forced labor, torture, other human rights violations and genocide.
Thus, thanks to Build Back Better, the American government could end up financing the forced labor practices that it protests with its diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics.
China also manufactures 80% of the raw materials used in advanced lithium-ion batteries, which are used to power electric vehicles as well as cell phones, laptops and cameras, the federal government’s own. Voice of America News reported Last year.
Of 136 lithium-ion battery factories planned until 2029, 101 are in China, according to a study by London-based Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.
U.S. mining companies aren’t happy that much of Build Back Better’s green energy spending ends up supporting mining and manufacturing operations in China.
“China is the dominant player in the material supply chains that underpin the manufacture and deployment of renewable energy and electric vehicles. We appreciate the focus the Biden administration has placed on the challenges of the material supply chain. And yet, unless we seriously consider the relocation of these supply chains and bringing new mines and mineral processing online, we stand a high risk of making Build Better and Energy Transition an agenda. jobs for Chinese workers, ”said Conor Bernstein of the National Mining Association.
Instead of rushing to send potentially hundreds of millions of dollars to China, US mining companies say the government should invest in domestic production.
“Building the infrastructure and energy systems of tomorrow is remarkably mineral intensive,” said Bernstein. “To meet this growing demand for materials, mining policy needs to keep pace with energy policy, and that’s just not the case. We have abundant mineral resources here. What we need is a policy to make sure we can produce them and build the safe and reliable supply chains that we know we need to have. “
And, critics note, the BBB’s green energy spending is just the start, as Biden pulls the economy away from the abundance of oil and natural gas in the United States for years to come.
“If you look at all the taxpayer dollars for green tech that the United States will spend over the next decade, the Build Back Better proposal is essentially a trillion dollar transfer payment to China,” said David Williams, President of Taxpayers Protection. Alliance (APT). Last year, TPA led a coalition of 25 organizations that wrote to Congress to oppose costly subsidies for wind and solar power.
The United States is reportedly spending at least $ 100 billion on the Build Back Better bill to extend tax subsidies for wind and solar power a shocking 25th time since they were passed by Congress.
An energy insider who has closely followed the negotiations around the Build Back Better bill noted that the country that would benefit the most from these tax subsidies is also building new ones as well. 43 new coal-fired power stations which, when completed, would be six times the size of the US coal fleet today. Leading them to wonder if Build Back Better would be better described as “Big Bucks for Beijing?” “