The solar cell situation in India

On Wednesday, Feb 24, the WTO ruled against India when it came to the solar cells and modules situation.

Here's an article that argues that the WTO was wrong to do so

The reason? A small portion of the program would have actively supported the creation of local renewable energy jobs.

This is hard to believe given the director of the WTO, Roberto Azevêdo, recently said "The challenge is not to stop trading but to ensure that trade is an ally in the fight against climate change." Yet with this decision the WTO is effectively driving a financial bulldozer through India's homegrown solar panel factories.

The ink is barely dry on the already weak UN Paris Climate agreement, but clearly trade still trumps real action on climate change. This is in spite of a report by Friends of the Earth International which found that transferring the world's energy to 100% renewables, could be possible within 15 years.

tl;dr - Barring India from producing (cheaply) and selling (cheaply) its domestic solar cells and modules is a bad thing. Worse, it will work against the goal of getting India to clean energy, especially with the burgeoning energy requirements of a billion+ country.

The Hindu retorts

India must resist the temptation of adopting protectionist measures such as domestic content requirements which are inconsistent with its international obligations.

tl;dr whatever said and done, India has agreed to participate and play fair in world trade. As a result, India must honor the rules of capitalism. Indian producers can compete with US solar. However, there should not be any carve outs.

Finally, we have Forbes providing some sage advice that it's only a question of supply and demand.

But look at what that means: Local capitalists are, by law, getting rich at the expense of local consumers. We are deliberately changing the law to make sure that the owners of local panel manufacturers make more money at the expense of all the consumers who buy the electricity. And of course those local capitalists are very, very, interested in making sure that there are those barriers to the cheap imports. While the consumers…well, most of them won’t think about it very much and so won’t be lobbying the politicians. Thus the basic explanation of why we do end up with import restrictions, simply because of the concentrated interest of those who benefit and the diffuse interest of those who end up losing. That’s just how politics works.

In this case, demand will continue to be present. IOW, there is a lot of money to be made. Hence the politics here.