President Obama has many times insisted that we need to relentlessly continue making the renewable-energy “investments” that will help the United States create “green jobs” and give us a competitive edge against countries like China and help us “win the future” — but whatever miraculous future he’s referring to is unclear, since China’s policies are so often an example of precisely what not to do. China’s solar-panel industry is a hot mess of overcapacity right now, with too many firms and way too many panels thanks to their many wildly generous subsidy programs.

The resulting flood of solar panels on the global market means plummeting prices, which in turns means that solar panel companies are losing money and are looking for ways to pinch their pennies. Hence, even some of the biggest solar companies in the world are using cheaper, even untested substitute materials in their manufacturing, causing an emerging and alarming problem of quality control, via the NYT: