Industry association EU Pro Sun, who represents more than 20 European companies producing solar panels, claimed in a complaint lodged on July 25 2012 that solar panels and their key components imported from China enter the European market at prices below market value.

The complaint shows possible price dumping by the exporting producers on the EU market and a possible link between the imports and the damage suffered by the industry.

In terms of import value affected, this is the most significant anti-dumping complaint the European Commission has received so far. In 2011, China exported solar panels and their key components worth around €21bn (£16.6bn) to the EU.

The investigation will take 15 months in total. However, it is possible, according to trade defence rules, to impose provisional anti-dumping duties within 9 months, provided there is sufficient prima facie evidence of dumping.

Commenting on PV trading between the two regions, China’s ministry of commerce website states: “Under the grim world economic situation, the conduct of misuse of trade remedy measures is not favorable for the settlement of trade frictions, and will affect the two sides and undermine the process of world economic recovery”.

“Currently, as developing and utilizing renewable energy becomes a global consensus, all nations should strengthen cooperation in this field and promote the more extensive application of PV energy in the world”.

The Environmental Industries Commission’s (EIC) Adrian Wilkes told edie: “I would say that the European Commission is right to look into “dumping” of “solar panels” and examine whether there are unfair subsidies – otherwise we’ll see a major new industry of the future die off in Europe, leaving the Chinese solar industry to reap the massive (and growing) worldwide market for solar panels”.

Last month, PV Crystalox Solar reported a dramatic fall in revenues and profits in the last year as a consequence of a vast overcapacity on the PV industry which primarily originates in China.

Crystalox chief executive officer Iain Dorrity, said in August: “Trading conditions during the first half of 2012 have been extremely challenging and this has had a significant impact on our trading performance.

“Looking forward, the intensely competitive market conditions are not expected to improve in the short term and so we continue with our cash conservation strategy.”

China is the world’s largest producer of solar panels. Approximately 65% of all solar panels are produced in China. The EU is China’s main export market, accounting for around 80% of all Chinese export sales.

Leigh Stringer

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