Update: After much discussion with Europressedienst, Solar Power Portal can reveal that only 28 UK installers participated in the survey out of the total 532, although the market research company maintains that this number is representative of the European industry as a whole.


A European market research company has revealed that 42.9% of UK installers back the European Commission imposing duties on Chinese modules, whereas 32.1% are against them.

The survey by Germany-based market research company Europressedienst was based on conversations with 532 installers from 27 EU member states (most of whom were from Germany, Italy and France) were contacted.

It also revealed that over 7% of UK installers say they would have to shutter operations if duties were imposed, with 25% of installers likely to be forced to dismiss employees. Conversely, one third of installers believe the duties would not have any immediate effect on their business.

A report by Swiss analysts Prognos and commissioned by the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy (AFASE), a body representing European solar manufacturers opposed to the duties, found in February that the duties could cut the UK solar market by up to 80%. Furthermore, it could cost the UK economy £3.46 billion and result in 38,600 job losses.

In response to any duties levied against Chinese manufacturers, Europressedienst states that 10.7 % of UK installers would buy fewer Chinese modules, while 17.9 % would try to reduce the purchase prices of other materials.

A spokesman for the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy (AFASE) told Solar Power Portal: “The idea that the PV installer industry is ambivalent to higher prices runs contrary to every other piece of research and data. Yesterday 1,000 companies from the EU solar industry wrote to the Commission warning about the grave impact of import duties and here in the UK an independent report by Prognos demonstrated that the solar industry would shrink by between 40-80% if duties were imposed.”

The letter, penned by AFASE, had 1,024 signatories from across the EU solar PV industry, of which 176 were from UK-based solar professionals, noting that any potential duties arising from the current EC anti-dumping investigation could “severely hamper” the European solar industry “to the detriment of the entire EU solar PV value chain and without significant positive effect for the EU solar producers”.

Furthermore, at a meeting organised by the Solar Trade Association at the beginning of April the vast majority of delegates present made it clear they believe the proposed EU legislation will have disastrous consequences for the entire sector.

Said Frans Van Den Heuvel, CEO, Solarcentury told Solar Power Portal: “Whilst this survey highlights that many UK installers are considering making staff redundant or facing closure and that there is therefore a deep concern regarding tariffs, we dispute the finding that a third of installers do not expect any immediate impact. This is absolutely not our experience from talking to installers all day, every day. To a person, they regard the imposition of tariffs as a threat to their business. The view of our installer network is that the UK market is just picking up and that tariffs jeopardise this tentative confidence. At the recent STA members briefing meeting on anti-dumping, there was unanimous support for our trade association's clear stand against tariffs.  The last thing the UK sector needs right now is a prolonged period of uncertainty just at the point when at last we have a settled UK policy framework.”