European solar industry calls for an immediate end of trade measures on Chinese solar panels and cells

7/6/16, 8:00 AM -

34 solar and renewable energy associations sent a letter to Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom calling on the EU to immediately drop trade measures on Chinese solar panels and cells. The organizations, representing over 1,3 million European jobs and more than 120,000 European companies, believe that the measures are having a negative impact on the solar sector in Europe also in the downstream sector.

34 European solar and renewable energy associations call on the EU Commission to immediately remove the trade sanctions against the imports of Chinese PV modules and cells.

James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe, stated : ‟This is an overwhelming show of support from organizations across the EU working in solar. The measures have been in place for more than three years without any real benefit to the European solar industry. We need a better, more specific approach to support module producers in Europe, trade measures are a blunt instrument harming more than 80 percent of solar manufacturing jobs and all downstream jobs in Europe today. The Commission needs to develop a new way forward for solar without trade duties and price mechanisms.”

Trade measures cause increasing module prices

“The cost of modules is dropping everywhere else in the world as economies of scale come to fruition. Unfortunately, in Europe, due to the minimum import price and trade measures, the price of modules is increasing against the documented trend for costs to come down as scale increases”, the 34 signing organizations state in the letter to European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom. This would be especially harmful at a time when the EU member states are required to move EU Member States to move from direct subsidy to competitive price driven tenders for solar. This would make price the key element for solar to be competitive with other sources of energy generation in Europe.

Contradicting the competitiveness of solar

“The minimum import price and the duties are increasing the price of solar, at a time when competitive tenders for solar have been introduced. This is having two effects, it is prolonging the time that governments in Europe must provide financial support for solar, while simultaneously delaying the point at which solar reaches direct competitiveness with other forms of energy generation. This is not serving the interest of the EU on renewable energy”, the letter states.

Duties add 1000 Euros to the installation of household solar

“As the trade measures add to the cost of solar, they are contributing to slowing down its deployment. This is contrary to the desire of the EU to effectively combat climate change and reduces the likelihood that targets, such as the goal of having 27 percent of energy from renewables by 2030, will be met. The recent launch of the Energy Union initiative aims to put the consumer at the heart of European energy policy, yet the duties add around 1000 Euros to the installation of household solar, according STA`s (UK Solar Trade Association) recent study. This makes the consumer pay more to take an active role in the energy transition and undermines the objective of having energy policies that support the consumer”, the letter says.

Representing 20 EU Member States

The signing organizations represent 20 European Union Member States: Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK. This gives the support for removing the measures almost blanket coverage of the EU Member States. Among the signing parties is also the European Association of Electrical Contractors (AIE).

The Commission must make a recommendation on the solar trade measures at the beginning of 2017, which is subject to approval from the Member States. Trade duties have been in place since 2013, alongside a minimum import price agreement. The letter calls for an immediate end to the trade sanctions. (HCN)

For related background information also see: