Solar Panels: New Law Forces Pentagon to Buy American Solar Panels

January 11, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015

Solar panels: A new law forces the Pentagon to buy American solar panels, such as the ones above at a solar power facility in Chicago, Ill. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Solar panels: A new law forces the Pentagon to buy American solar panels, such as the ones above at a solar power facility in Chicago, Ill. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
A new military authorization bill signed by President Obama forces the Pentagon to buy only American solar panels.

The defense authorization act, officially H.R. 6523, or the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, became law on Jan. 7 and specifically forbids the Department of Defense from procuring foreign solar panels, or specifically, “photovoltaic devices.”

The law states that all contracts for solar panels the Department of Defense doles out must include “a provision requiring the photovoltaic devices provided under the contract to comply with the Buy American Act.”

The mandate also includes Buy American stipulations for a slew of other green technologies such as “energy savings performance contracts, utility service contracts, land leases, and private housing contracts,” as long as “such contracts result in ownership of photovoltaic devices by the Department of Defense.”

These regulations apply for all solar panels that are installed on property owned by the Pentagon, or licensed for exclusive use by the Pentagon.

While not naming them as a specific target, the directive seems to target Chinese green technologies, especially its solar industry.

The Communist nation has become the world’s largest producer of solar panels as its state-sponsored green technologies industry continues to grow at record paces.

According to the New York Times, China alone accounted for half of the world’s production of solar panels last year.

By including the “Buy American” provision, the federal government hopes that it can wean itself off and fend off its reliance on Chinese clean energy products.