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Solar panels at Fort Bragg ‘probably made in China,’ top Army official warns

Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Lan Hongguang/Xinhua/Sipa USA/TNS)
April 20, 2023

Solar panels at one of the largest U.S. military installations were “probably made in China,” the secretary of the Army admitted during a congressional hearing Wednesday.

The comment came as the U.S. is decoupling parts of its economy from China amid intensifying competition between the superpowers.

Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said she could not vouch for whether a solar panel array at North Carolina’s Fort Bragg was made in the U.S. during a meeting of the House Armed Services Committee.

“I would imagine, given that most solar panels are made in China, there’s a good chance that those panels were made in China,” Wormuth said.

READ MORE: Air Force outlines plan to face ‘acute challenges’ of climate change

The conversation was captured in a YouTube clip uploaded by Washington Free Beacon.

Fort Bragg owns and operates a floating solar panel system on Big Muddy Lake at Camp Mackall. The 1.1-megawatt system is designed to supply power to the base and local energy grid, according to a press release.

The 2023 military budget includes a measure to ban China-made semiconductors, a key component of solar panels, from federal government supply chains beginning in five years, according to law firm Holland & Knight.

The Army has a goal of powering installations with “100% carbon-pollution-free electricity” by 2030, according to its 2022 climate strategy.

READ MORE: Biden admin says climate change can ‘force’ military intervention

At a recent Earth Day event at the Pentagon, a defense official described a “climate assessment tool” that can review all major U.S. military installations for climate-related vulnerabilities.

During the committee meeting, Wormuth was responding to a line of questioning from Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL), who asked whether she found it “problematic” that the military’s transition to renewable energy is “being powered by slave labor, our greatest adversary, and … Russian coal in Chinese plants.”

“I think there are a lot of interdependencies that are challenging that we have to work through, yes,” she said.