European businesses call for EU to cut ‘ruinous’ tariffs on chinese solar

Businesses across Europe, including more than 60 based in the UK, are calling on the European Union (EU) to remove trade measures on Chinese solar modules and cells that have had "unforeseen consequences" on the European solar value chain.

In a letter directed to the European Trading Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, 403 European companies, including the likes of PwC, SSE and Kingspan, from all 28 EU Member States called on the EU to suspend minimum import pricing (MIP), anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures on all Chinese solar cells and modules immediately.

Since December 2013, Chinese imports to Europe have been subject to anti-dumping tariffs, which enforce a minimum price of €0.56 per watt and annual import quota of 7GW. The letter, published by sector representative group SolarPower Europe, suggests that these measures have had “ruinous” consequences on those in the solar sector as well as those wanting to purchase solar solutions.

SolarPower Europe’s board director Jochen Hauff said: “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.”

The trade measures imposed on EU Member States increase costs for customers, consumers and energy bill payers and have had “unforeseen consequences” on every aspect of the solar value chain leading to large numbers of job losses and increasingly shrinking demand – according to the letter.

The letter suggests that the removal of current trade measures would “stimulate growth” in European manufacturing sectors, as well as regaining job losses that have occurred in the solar sector.

SolarPower Europe’s board director Sebastian Berry added: “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.”

‘Hindering’ EU renewable goals

Current trade measures are adding “100,000s of Euros” in installation costs for solar panels in the 10MW region and thousands of Euros to general household installations, affecting demand in both business and consumer sectors, the letter noted.

The letter also highlights that the continued growth of solar throughout Europe is being hindered by the current trade measures, despite the EUs wider renewable energy goals. With the Paris Agreement and various other low carbon EU initiatives that benefit from the growth of renewable energy now in place, the signatories feel that measures are actively hindering the EU’s ability to achieve wider goals.

This is not a new sentiment within the renewable energy sector. Last year, the Renewable Energy Association (REA) made similar calls for the EU to drop anti-dumping tarrifs on Chinese panels, claiming that the tariffs had failed to prevent module costs from coming down in the UK over the past few years.

Alex Baldwin

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