Over 400 European companies covering all EU Member States has sent a letter to European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, asking her to end the trade measures in place since 2012 on Chinese solar modules and cells.
The signatories to this letter believe that the minimum import price (MIP), anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures on cells and modules from China should be removed immediately. The measures are having the unforeseen consequence of negatively impacting the entire European solar value chain to the detriment of jobs, investment and solar deployment in Europe. A policy that was designed to help the few has failed to do so, only serving to harm the very many right across the EU.
Despite the global boom in solar power, Europe today holds a worryingly small and shrinking percentage of the annual market. At a time when the European solar market has declined, the sector is in need of measures that will boost demand and not these trade measures which increase cost to its customers, consumers and energy bill payers.
The measures have had unforeseen consequences on the signatories companies, leading to job losses and reduced opportunity in the solar market due to increased costs. With module prices at an artificially high level, all these companies suffer from the dual impact of higher prices and the impact these prices have on demand. The European Commission and Member States need to end the measures now to accelerate the date by which this industry can grow sustainably without the need for support mechanisms.
The trade measures add to the cost of solar and are contributing to slowing down its deployment. The measures add 100,000 € of cost to installations in the region of 10 MW and above and around 1,000 € to household installations. With tenders for large scale solar being driven by price, the trade measures are ensuring that the potential of solar is not being fulfilled in Europe, contrary to the EUs wider renewable energy targets and goals.
Jochen Hauff, Board Director of SolarPower Europe representing BayWa r.e. renewable energy GmbH, one of the leaders of the initiative, stated ‘The volume of European companies opposed to the trade measures is staggering. Companies have signed from every EU Member State, from all segments of the value chain – including: steel, chemicals, engineering, developers, installers, power sales. European solar SMEs and large corporations are united in the belief that these trade duties must go, and now is the time for the Commission to act and remove them through the ongoing Expiry Review.’
Representing European manufacturing, Christian Westermeier, Board Director of SolarPower Europe, added ‘For European manufacturers in the solar value chain the measures have been ruinous and have led to the loss of thousands of jobs in manufacturing. The removal of these trade measures will stimulate growth in European manufacturing all along the solar value chain and support the process of regaining this lost European employment.’
Sebastian Berry, Board Director of SolarPower Europe, summed up the feeling of the European solar sector by saying ‘The trade measures have been in place for a long time, they have brought only decline to the European solar sector. As a leading European solar company we need the Commission to remove these measures to allow the sector to grow sustainably again. If Europe is serious about leading in renewables, then the solar sector must be allowed to grow again and the European Commission can support this with one easy action – removing the trade measures.’
The case represents the largest ever trade dispute between the EU and China and seriously impacts the possibility for Europe to reach its climate objectives. The Expiry Review into the trade duties placed on solar modules and cells originating in China is currently ongoing and due to be completed by March 2017.
Source: SolarPower Europe