UK solar firms facing audits as part of import duty dodging crackdown

The UK solar sector could be set for a round of audits as part of an enforcement effort of the EU-China price undertaking, according to a senior industry figure.

The agreement currently calls on Chinese modules to be sold into the EU for no less than €0.53/W. Stories of various workarounds to the rules have circulated widely in the industry since the undertaking came into force at the turn of the year.

Writing for Solar Power Portal, Jerry Hamilton, director of renewables and energy solutions, Rexel Energy Solutions warned that impending enforcement efforts could mean hefty penalties for those circumventing the rules.

“Suggestions are strong that audits will commence as early as next month to establish where any breaches in the anti-dumping agreement have occurred,” he said in his Renewable Jerry blog.

“Any breach of the rules will be tantamount to tax evasion and the consequences are likely to be serious for the risk-takers. It is therefore imperative that the purchaser knows where they stand in the face of possible prosecution. Many companies can be duped into actually being the importer on the paperwork without understanding the full consequences. Even pre-paying the VAT could have consequences and place you in the line of fire,” he warned.

A number of figures have warned against breaking the rules by bundling modules with other products sold below cost and relabeling Chinese panels with alternate import origins.

At Intersolar Europe, German manufacturer Solarworld claimed to have handed more than 1000 pages of evidence to the European Commission detailing breaches of the price undertaking.

Trina Solar, one of the firms named in samples of the evidence seen by the press, called the claims “false and ridiculous” but admitted it could only speak for itself, not the Chinese manufacturers as a whole.