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I've come across some people claiming that Chinese solar energy companies are dumping defective panels in other countries. The gist of the claim is that these low-cost panels will drive local producers out of business, but will soon have to be replaced -- creating dependency on the Chinese industry. There is also a version for non-industrial countries, where the government gets a line of credit from China to buy the panels, and then enters a sort of international debt bondage when they find that their investment in panels does not pay for itself.

The core claim of these theories is that the Chinese solar panels degrade much more quickly than others (and more quickly than the manufacturers claim). My internet search did not reveal any direct assessment of this claim. What I did find is this:

  1. The causes of degradation.
  2. Typical rates of degradation (including Skeptics discussion)
  3. There is (or was) a trade dispute over subsidies, but no mention of quality.
  4. Problems that China is having in expanding its solar capacity (including defective panels), and how they are addressing these problems.

What I cannot find is whether defective panels are an issue in the international market, and specifically whether they are being consciously dumped abroad. It would be great to see how rates of degradation vary in solar installations based on manufacturers (or country of origin).

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    I'm not sure this is answerable. You're asking about intent; which might require something like a leaked internal memo, or a statistical analysis of failure rates within and outside China; to do the latter, would require access to a lot of data that isn't available. – EnergyNumbers Jun 16 '15 at 9:31

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