Expiry review of ‘unfair’ anti-dumping duties ‘not good news’ for UK solar

The European Commission’s decision to launch an expiry review of anti-dumping duties attached to Chinese solar modules has been criticised by the UK solar industry.

On Saturday (5 December) the European Union confirmed in its official journal that the Commission had acknowledged European solar lobby group EU ProSun’s request for an extension of the minimum import price, and would investigate whether or not the extension was warranted to protect European module manufacturers.

However the minimum import price on panels, which artificially inflates their price, has been extended throughout the course of the investigation which is expected to last for at least a year and as long as 15 months.

Lauren Cook, policy analyst at the Renewable Energy Association, said that the review was “not good news for the solar industry”.

“It will keep system costs high and delay the industry in reaching grid parity. The REA had clearly recommended to both DECC and the European Commission that minimum import pricing should be removed,” Cook said, adding that this would now need to be taken into effect by the Department of Energy and Climate Change when making a decision on the future of the feed-in tariff.

Paul Barwell, chief executive at the Solar Trade Association, said it was time price controls were dropped and claimed European homeowners and governments were paying “far more than [they] should” for solar.

“In the last two and a half years under these price controls and restrictions, the UK will have deployed nearly 7GW of solar PV equating to £8.5bn of investment. Over the life of the tariffs this will add £700million more than it would otherwise need to in terms of the UK’s support for solar – that is simply too much.

“The Commission appears to be hamstrung by its own restrictive processes, where they cannot take into account the full facts. We hope this review by the Commission will check whether these price controls are in the interests of the industry as a whole,” he added.

But Milan Nitzschke, president at EU ProSun, said that the continued dumping of Chinese modules was the “greatest threat” for competition, jobs and innovation, and called upon the measures to remain “in full force and effect”.

"Only under conditions of fair competition can we maintain our high quality, environmental and social standards. It is absurd, even with the dramatic pictures from China, that some people believe that it is possible to build a clean energy turnaround on the basis of dumped imports from China,” he said.

At government level reaction to the minimum import price is mixed across Europe. Whilst German PM Angela Merkel has voiced her support of the duties, David Cameron is not known to have an opinion on them either way. Energy secretary Amber Rudd has however discussed possible opposition to the MIP in the House of Commons in recent months.

Solar Power Portal had yet to receive a response from the Department of Energy and Climate Change at the time of writing, but had been assured that comment setting out the government’s position would be forthcoming.