The defense appropriations bill that U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law on Friday contains a provision requiring the military to buy only American made solar panels. Lawmakers added the provision over concerns that China unfairly subsidizes its renewable energy industries.
The provision was drafted to be compliant with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, UPI reports. Nonetheless, it is certain to be a point of contention when Chinese President Hu Jintao visits the U.S. next week.
It will likely be kindling for what could become a serious trade dispute between the two powers. China halted the shipment of rare earth minerals to the United States in October as a protest over U.S. claims of unfair competition.
China is the world's largest supplier of the minerals, which are used to manufacture many staples of the modern world ranging from electronics, hybrid cars, solar panels and wind turbines to guided missiles. The Obama administration has sought to diversify the world's supply chain.
On Dec. 22, the U.S. upped the ante by filing a WTO case against chinese win turbine manufacturing subsidies. Meanwhile, the U.S. extended a renewable energy grant program last month, which helps cover the cost of energy projects.
The U.S. military has been investing in the development of new renewable energy technologies. Some of these investments are: