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17th Jun 2019

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Solar association fears China investigation will raise prices

  • Chinese manufacturers should sell their solar modules to the EU for a minimum price, something which the Brussels-based trade association said should end. (Photo: pixor)

Europe's solar industry fears a European Commission investigation into possible anti-competitive practices by China concerning solar imports will raise solar panel prices in Europe.

“It is very difficult to see how the investigation will lead to anything but an increase of price”, said James Watson, CEO of Solar Power Europe Monday (1 June).

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The commission announced last week (29 May) that it would look into whether China is circumventing measures the EU put in place in 2013 that restrict imports of solar modules and key components.

EU and Chinese solar companies reached an agreement for a minimum import price in 2013.

But in April this year, SolarWorld, a German manufacturer of solar products, filed a complaint with the commission. The German company suspected Chinese companies are using Malaysian and Taiwanese exporters as front organisations to circumvent the minimum price.

Sufficient evidence

The commission said on Friday the German company provided “sufficient evidence” for an investigation.

Solar products that are imported to the EU from Malaysia and Taiwan will have to be registered to prove they did not originally come from China.

The move was welcomed by EU ProSun, another solar panel organisation.

“European solar manufacturers are severely damaged by this continued dumping,” EU ProSun said in a statement, noting that it estimates €500 million in customs revenue has been lost as a result.

Solar Power Europe has been pushing since April to have the minimum import prices scrapped after they expire later this year.

Watson blamed the price threshold for Chinese companies as partially responsible for an increase in the price of solar modules.

He noted that the association “understands” that the commission is carrying out the investigation, but that it follows from having a minimum import price.

The German company that filed the complaint with the commission, SolarWorld, is a member of Solar Power Europe, and they “are not very happy” with its position, but will stay as a member, said Watson, adding: “We agree to disagree.”

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