There is an additional layer here that I did not mention. It is little appreciated how much better manufacturing equipment has gotten in the last five years. If you installed a piece of manufacturing equipment 4 years ago it is surely obsolete by now. This has led many manufacturers to write down old equipment.
http://www.pv-tech.org/news/solarworld_ ... _equipment
Here is another example. Back in 2009, Masdar PV built a 65 MW A-si plant in Ichtershausen, Germany for $230 million. Just recently Panasonic announced a 300 MW HIT plant in Kedah, Malaysia that is slated to cost $282 million. If you adjust for inflation the costs are fairly comparable. On top of this we must consider that A-Si is a low-grade product compared to Panasonic's HIT modules. This tells you something about how far this industry has come. I find it amazing. Each new manufacturing plant is raising the bar a little higher.
Over on the wafer side there is no better example of old vs new than the wafer operations of LDK and RenaSola vs the wafer operations of GCL. In Q1 of 2010, GCL produced 5 MW of wafers compared to LDK's 427 MWs of wafers. By Q4 of 2010 GCL was producing 788 MW of wafers compared to LDK's 628 MW. But GCL's equipment was much more modern than LDK's so they were beating the pants off them when it came to manufacturing costs. GCL's aggressive move into wafers punished anybody who had legacy wafer equipment.
Since 2010 we've built twice as much PV as we had cumulatively in the 50 years before. Our learning in this field is all back loaded. 2005 is essentially ancient history.
I believe it is ignorant to complain about the Chinese subsidizing their industry. This mindset is ignorant because it disregards history. Who cares that the Chinese have won a round? This party has only just started. I hope we can all see this. The apparent dominance that China has currently could easily evaporate. US and Germany should be channeling their anger into exploration. There's a tremendous frontier of opportunity ahead. That may sound corny but I think it's true.