Utilization of European solar module factories declined to 40% – SolarPower Europe calls for removal of the MIP

1/18/17, 8:00 AM -

Solar module production capacities in EU decreased in 2016, while the output of EU factories dropped in a two-digit range, according to a survey by SolarPower Europe. Due to the MIP European manufacturers cannot benefit from cost effective Asian solar cells.

According to a survey of SolarPower Europe the Minimum Import Price for Asian solar cells harms the European manufacturers.

In 2016, module manufacturers had facilities in the EU with 6.7 GW annual production capacity, a three percent drop from 6.9 GW in 2015. Production output decreased by 16 percent in the same period to around 2.7 GW, from 3.2 GW in 2015.

Cell capacity of only 1.8 GW mostly used in-house

The utilization of the module factories in the EU continued to decline to 40 percent in 2016, from 46 percent the year before. The survey also shows that cell manufacturing capacities remain much lower than module capacities in the EU at a constant level of around 1.8 GW in 2015-16. But even this small cell capacity is mostly used in-house.

Low demand and too small size

Michael Schmela, Executive Advisor and Head of Market Intelligence at industry association SolarPower Europe, stated, "Our survey shows that unfortunately many of the EU module production facilities are simply ghost capacities. There are several reasons for the consolidation of the EU's solar module production sector, including the rather low demand for solar in Europe and local module factories being often too small to compete for standard solar applications.

MIP keeps cells at a artificially high price level

„But a key factor making local EU-based module manufacturers life very hard today is the Minimum Import Price (MIP) for solar cells, which keeps low-cost Asian products the companies need at artificially high levels”, Schmela says. “ If the European Commission really wants to see module manufacturing jobs in the future in the EU, it needs to abandon the MIP and measures now."

Trade sanctions have to be removed

James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe added, "The European Commission has missed a chance to support European module manufacturers in its recent recommendations on the expiry review of the EU-China trade case. The proposed maintenance of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties even for a period of two more years will negatively affect the entire solar sector in the EU. If Europe really wants to benefit from low-cost solar power, the Commission and the EU Member States have to say 'No' to an extension of the duties."

SolarPower Europe organizes a free webinar on "The Trade Case on Modules and Cells - State of Play and What to Expect" on 19. January 2017, 10:30 CET. (HCN)

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