The potential imposition of punitive duties on all Chinese-manufactured solar products has caused British Solar Renewables to re-evaluate its planned £300 million investment in the sector.  

Angus Macdonald, managing director at British Renewables explained: “Imposing the levy would be to commit economic suicide. It would risk the entire UK/EU solar industry, make climate change obligations more expensive and, ultimately, would result in a net loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

A study published by Swiss analysts Prognos and commissioned by AFASE estimates that the potential imposition of trade duties on Chinese-manufactured solar products in the EU could cut the UK solar market by up to 80% – costing the UK economy £3.46 billion and resulting in 38,600 job losses.

Macdonald continued: “It’s unfortunate that there wasn’t enough EU investment in solar manufacturing to create viable products when the opportunity arose. The fact is that China saw the market opportunity and did invest and, as a result, the burgeoning UK/EU solar development industry hinges on use of Chinese imports to make it viable.”

British Solar Renewables believes that the potential EU levy has put the UK’s 20GW by 2020 ambition at risk due to the significant increase in costs that developers will be forced to bear. When combined with the continued degression of solar subsidies, the impact on the sector will be significant.

Despite operating in the UK’s downstream market and installing Chinese modules, 65% of all of British Solar Renewables spend remains within the UK/EU – a fact that the company believes is typical of other companies in the industry. The company believes that the proposed duties will threaten the majority of its spend while also negatively impacting the agricultural industry, which has embraced solar farms as an important extra revenue stream.

The next step in the ongoing anti-dumping investigation is for the EU member states to vote on the provisional findings of the commission. The number of votes allocated to each EU member state is determined by the population size of the respective states. If there is a majority of votes opposed to the measures than the council can overturn the decision.