The European Commission’s decision to impose duties on Chinese-manufactured solar products has sent shockwaves through the European solar industry. Below is a comprehensive round-up of the industry’s reaction to the news:
Yingli Green Energy
Liansheng Miao, chairman and chief executive officer:
“We notice with regret that the European Commission insists on imposing preliminary anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar products despite massive opposition from EU member states. Punitive tariffs – no matter at what level – will inevitably lead to higher prices for solar products causing at least the stagnation of the solar industry in Europe.”
Darren Thompson, managing director: “A negotiated settlement will help to alleviate the current market uncertainty, ensuring European consumers' access to affordable green energy and at the same time sustaining local jobs.”
Milan Nitzschke, president of EU ProSun:
“Today is the first high point after three years of Chinese dumping which caused thousands of Europeans to lose their jobs, and 60 European factory closures of which 30 were in Germany alone.
“Chinese-backed lobby groups’ arguments are absurd and insult Europe’s real technological capabilities. To say that a shift toward solar energy is only possible with dumped goods is tantamount to saying sports performance is only possible with doping. Dumping is fraud, and dumping destroys competition and markets. With a market share of over 80 percent today China is already far too close to a monopoly.
“In the coming two months, China has to make substantial offers, including the cessation of destructive dumping permanently. Otherwise, higher tariffs will apply automatically.”
Regarding the duty level, Nitzschke said: “Such a low duty means that China gets off lightly.”
European Photovoltaic Industry Association
As the voice of the global solar photovoltaic industry in Europe, EPIA has maintained a neutral position in this case (and in other pending trade cases affecting the sector). This decision to impose provisional duties intervenes in a context of shifting market dynamics and production overcapacity, which led to an intense global competition. The fast price decrease observed over the last two years has resulted in negative margins over almost the entire value chain of the solar PV industry and put many of its players in severe financial difficulties.
EPIA therefore encourages all governmental and industry players to ensure fair competition respecting WTO rules and to engage at an early stage in discussions so as to avoid trade conflicts in the future and collaborate on a global scale.
Our organisation is ready to work with policy-makers and all relevant stakeholders in order to ensure a strong industrial base in Europe. This will require a comprehensive strategy based on, among other things, a continued effort in R&D, a stable regulatory framework, easy access to capital both for project and industry financing and a mid-term certainty for investors based on binding targets for renewable energies in Europe for 2030.
Jodie Roussell, director of public affairs, Europe
Rousell called into question the Commission’s definition of dumping, claiming it does not comply with the “street definition” and therefore incorrectly labelling companies as dumping.
She told Solar Power Portal: “Street definition of dumping is selling products below cost and Trina Solar has not done this.”
Roussell said that due to China’s status as a non market economy, the Commission compared module sales prices with that of market economies exporting to Europe in order to deduce whether or not China was dumping, rather than investigating China itself.
She added: “Street definition of dumping is selling products below cost and Trina Solar has not done this. The Commission however takes a very different definition which is essentially if the EU sales price is lower than the Chinese sales price dumping has taken place, but in this case China isn’t considered a market economy by the EU so the Commission compared sales prices of companies that were exporting to the EU [from] another country – an analogue country – and with that comparison they judged that we’re dumping.”
In respect of the duties, Roussell said: “We don’t think that imposing import tariffs is a good idea and it will irreversibly damage the industry.
“We at Trina welcome any opportunity for constructive dialogue and certainly support the Commission and China having a productive dialogue. He [de Gucht] indicated that both sides have talked about their willingness to have a conversation – I think now the opportunity is at hand and certainly an amicable solution is in the interest of the global solar industry and global solar consumers – we can’t forget the interest of consumers that want to buy solar and only in the past two years have been able to afford to buy solar.
“I think we all want to see fair play in the market today and I certainly hope that the Commission and the Chinese government will have a very productive dialogue.”
Lightsource Renewable Energy
Nick Boyle, CEO:
“We feel that any duty levied by Europe on Chinese solar panels will have a hugely detrimental effect on the industry as a whole, most significantly in areas such as the UK where the industry is working hard to move from cottage industry to fully fledged business sector. While we welcome the slight short term reduction in these threats, we believe it is essential that the whole affair gets resolved quickly which will then allow us to move on with the huge task in hand of helping deliver the UK and Europe’s far reaching targets for renewable energy generation.”
Zhe Jiang, CEO:
“Once again, all China-based solar companies are being viewed through the same lens. Measures meant to stifle the unfair business practices of state-owned solar giants are also impacting businesses like Upsolar that utilise flexible business models and international resources.
“By enforcing these extensive penalties, the European Commission is restricting the growth of its solar industry and limiting the opportunity to create much-needed jobs throughout Europe. However, we are confident that this market can regain its strength, and will ultimately benefit from a level playing field.”
Ernst & Young
Ben Warren, Environmental Finance Leader:
“At a time when governments, particularly in the EU, are struggling to justify the cost of supporting renewable energy to the tax payer, and future energy security is of utmost importance, it is almost incredulous that the EU would impose these restrictions.
“Over the past three decades, the EU has spent billions to enable renewable energy to compete with conventional generation. Now, just as solar power is becoming directly competitive to fossil fuels, it decides to apply a tax on affordable energy.
“As our recent Renewable Country Attractiveness Indices (RECAI) showed it is competitiveness against conventional energy generation at a global level that will determine the industry’s success in the long-term. With global annual investment in clean energy peaking at $296bn last year, the EU cannot afford to close doors and isolate itself.”
The Green Electrician Group
Rupert Higgin, Managing Director:
“These high duties will damage the UK’s fragile UK PV sector that’s still recovering from the poorly handled changes to the Feed-in-Tariff.
“The EC has ignored the position of the vast majority of EU member states, the industry and opted for dangerous protectionism. Open markets are the right choice to achieve lower solar energy prices, to create more solar jobs and to develop a growing green energy industry in the UK.
“Currently the value added lies upstream and downstream from solar panel production and that’s where the UK’s PV companies are doing well. Imposing duties on Chinese imports will push up the cost of installing solar PV and damage the country’s opportunity to build a green and high value-added economy.
“It would be more constructive for the EC to spend the time, money and effort in developing a clearer and more considered renewables policy that supports the growing renewables industry.
“The UK solar industry has proved resilient to recent changes and continues to provide great returns to those who invest in solar. Although these provisional duties add unnecessary challenges we are confident that the dynamic nature of our industry will see it respond in a positive manner.”
de Gucht says that 2 months is long enough period for the industry to “adapt.” Commission displays its lack of understanding of pv mkt again
— Seb Berry (@SebPV) June 4, 2013
EU Tariffs: only 11% until August then up to 47% from then on. That ridiculous. Uncertainty continues. europa.eu/rapid/press-re…
— Howard Johns (@howardjohns) June 4, 2013
@pv_tech I cannot believe that. Bigger plant, cheaper silicon supply. Even 47% makes more expensive than EU solar – this makes no sense.
— Leonie Greene (@LeonieGreene) June 4, 2013
— Greg Barker (@GregBarkerMP) June 4, 2013
— AFASE (@AFASEsolar) June 5, 2013
EU Trade Commissioner, asked about the opposition from Member-States on tariffs, says “I will not bend no matter whose opinion it is” #wow
— Retiring Violet (@RetiringViolet) June 4, 2013