A letter written by energy secretary Amber Rudd to European commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom before this month’s expiry review called on the European Union to “consider very carefully” the impact of the minimum import price regime.
The letter, dated 17 November, hails solar as “one of the most unexpected energy success stories of the last five years” and says that central to its success had been the “spectacular fall in costs” that the technology had witnessed in recent years.
Rudd moved on to note that the EU’s position as a net buyer of solar panels meant that it stood to benefit from lower prices and that the overall impact of the MIP was to “protect a small group of manufacturers, with concomitant damage to the majority of the European solar sector”.
The letter implores the commissioner to consider the case for an expiry review and includes evidence provided from officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change which claims that China is unlikely to resume dumping because of an expected module shortage in the country and the “convergence” of Chinese and German-made modules.
It cites how in August this year Chinese and German modules reached parity at €0.57c per watt, the first time modules from the two destinations have been at parity in the last ten years.
“I believe that removing the MIP at the earliest possible opportunity will hasten the day when solar PV is able to operate without subsidy across the whole EU, providing jobs and energy security as well as helping us to reduce our carbon emissions,” Rudd said.
Rudd’s department had been quiet on the subject of the anti-dumping duties but broke its silence last week a day before the results of the feed-in tariff consultation were disclosed. Rudd, before the energy and climate change select committee, confirmed that she had written to the Commission on the subject and would continue to lobby for its removal.
A reply from Malmstrom – sent almost three weeks later and after the EC had launched its expiry review – notes that the existing anti-dumping measures will remain in place for the duration of the investigation, but moves to allay Rudd’s fears over the content of it.
“The investigation will now also examine whether the continued imposition of the measures would run counter to the Union interest. The Commission services will as always conduct such an investigation with utmost attention,” the letter states.
James Watson, chief executive at industry association Solar Power Europe, agreed with Rudd's comments and said that the likelihood of dumping was now “below minimal”.
“It seems that there is growing demand globally particularly in Asia and the states. This means that capacity will be taken by those emerging solar markets. India springs to mind. Therefore it seems the very particular circumstances of 2012 will not be seen again,” he said.
The Solar Trade Association’s Sonia Dunlop welcomed the letters. She said: “It is good to see that despite the heavy blow that was dealt to the British solar industry on the feed-in tariff, Amber Rudd is at least trying to use the UK government’s position as one of the heavyweight members of the EU to push for the MIP and anti-dumping measures to be removed. We have been urging the government to do this for some time and to be making our case to the Commission alongside at least one (and we hope more) of the ‘big’ member states will help enormously.
“We are now calling on Amber Rudd to lead a delegation of British solar businesses over to Brussels in early 2016 to meet with the EU Commissioner for trade, Cecilia Malmstrom, and communicate in person why anti dumping, anti subsidy and the minimum import price are in neither the UK’s or the EU’s interests.”
Alongside the expiry review of the minimum import price the EC is also holding an interim review investigation into whether or not anti-dumping duties should apply to solar cells. Associated businesses must register their interest in providing evidence to the reviews – the deadline for which expires today – before submitting evidence at a later date.
Businesses can email one or more of the following emails – TRADE-SOLAR-DUMPING@ec.europa.eu, TRADE-SOLAR-INJURY@ec.europa.eu and TRADE-SOLAR-SUBSIDY@ec.europa.eu – requesting to be listed as an interested party.
This article has been amended from its original version to include additional commentary.