Greg Barker in Brussels to lobby EC over solar duties

The UK’s minister for energy and climate change, Greg Barker, has arrived in Brussels today to lobby the European Commission (EC) over proposed plans to impose trade duties on Chinese-manufactured solar products.

The UK government has broken its silence over the ongoing EC investigations, urging other EU member states to vote against provisional proposals that will see an average levy of 47% applied to all Chinese-manufactured solar products in the UK. Barker has personally written to all 26 EU environment ministers ahead of his visit, calling on his peers to “follow the UK in backing the growth of solar”.

A DECC spokesperson told Solar Power Portal: “We have serious reservations about these proposals, which we have made clear to the European Commission. These plans could have a significant knock-on effect on the price of solar panels, putting the growth of the low carbon market across Europe at risk and making solar PV a less viable option for householders and businesses in the UK.

“Energy and climate change minister Greg Barker is with representatives from the solar industry in Brussels today to make the UK’s case.”

Barker’s vocal opposition to the potential duties follows the German vice chancellor and economy minister Philipp Rösler’s recent outburst, in which he labelled the EC’s plans as a “grave mistake”.

A recent study completed by Prognos and commissioned by the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy (AFASE) warned that the UK solar industry would be the hardest hit if duties on Chinese solar products were imposed as 80% of modules used in the UK market are of Chinese origin.

A number of key UK solar industry players have accompanied Barker, including the chairman of the British Photovoltaic Association, Reza Shaybani, and Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association (STA).

An STA spokesperson told Solar Power Portal: “The STA is delighted that DECC is engaging with industry on this crucial issue. This is further proof of the government’s strong commitment to solar.”