Key members of the UK solar industry have expressed serious concerns over the ongoing uncertainty and potential impact of EU investigations into alleged Chinese dumping and illegal subsidies.
Paul Barwell of the Solar Trade Association (STA) convened a meeting just before Easter to discuss strategies for dealing with the impending anti-dumping legislation. Although the meeting was off the record, Solar Power Portal gained access and was able to interview some of the participants afterwards.
While opinion industry-wide remains split over the benefits or otherwise of the imposition of retro-active taxation on Chinese-manufactured modules, the vast majority of delegates at last week’s meeting made it clear they believe the proposed EU legislation will have disastrous consequences for the entire sector.
Solar Power Portal spoke to Gabriel Wondrausch of SunGift directly after the meeting to hear his thoughts on how the situation might play out, and how product registration has affected the UK PV industry:
Paulette Vander Schueren from Mayer Brown, Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy’s legal representative in Brussels, came to London to explain both the repercussions inherent in the application of duties and the timeline of AFASE’s appeal to the EU. AFASE is petitioning the EU to oppose anti-dumping tariffs.
Key to their argument is the notion that the EU will use the duty tax to protect employment rates in the European PV market. AFASE reiterated the argument set out in the recent report it commissioned from Swiss analysts Prognos. This said that shutting Chinese importers out of Europe will negatively affect the 98% of jobs held by downstream employees in the sector – a far greater number of jobs, and therefore a significantly more widespread detriment to the industry, than the anti-dumping commission is currently considering.
Seb Berry from Solarcentury spoke at the meeting to offer an industry perspective. Solar Power Portal caught up with Berry shortly after the meeting, who explained that whichever way the decision goes, the uncertainty over pricing and taxation caused by the EU has already had highly disruptive consequences for the market:
Once the debate was opened to the floor, several attendees voiced major concerns about the incumbent taxation which, it was ultimately agreed, would have serious negative repercussions across the board. There is no doubt that the EC’s decision will carry huge weight, especially in light of the recent warnings China’s Ministry of Commerce gave about retaliation over the trade duties. The debate will continue apace until the commission reaches its verdict, expected by June this year.