The modern solar cell—the basis for today’s solar panels—was an American invention. Back in 1954, researchers at Bell Laboratories demonstrated the first version of this technology that was efficient enough to be economically viable.
But 69 years later, the vast majority of solar panels are made in China. In fact, the Asian nation now has enough capacity to manufacture 70 times as many solar panels as the US, according to BloombergNEF. As the world pivots away from fossil fuels and toward renewables, solar has taken on outsize significance, and America’s failure to keep pace with China has become a growing strategic liability.
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