Europe's solar firms want to drop trade restrictions on China
The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) has announced it wants to resume 'normal undistrorted fair trade" with Chinese solar manufacturers.
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 rules are intended to protect European manufacturers who cannot produce important equipment at the same price as Chinese firms - who are supported by substantial Government subsidies.
However, with these restrictions set to end in December, the EPIA has called for them not to be renewed, claiming they have contributed to an installation slowdown.
"We believe that a return to a level playing field will help solar power in Europe to grow, and support the European electricity market in achieving its challenging emission reduction goals," said EPIA president Oliver Schaefer. "Consumers will also be able to buy quality products manufactured at scale, at the best possible prices."
The EPIA added that international innovation and competition was an important way of driving technological advances, improving efficiencies and cutting costs.
Schaefer added: "By having more competitive, high-quality solar panels from the world's leading companies from all over the world, we can increase the rate and quality of solar installations in Europe."
The EPIA estimates that less than 7GW of new solar was installed in the EU in 2014, one third of the installations in 2011. Similarly, the amount of jobs supported by the industry has more than halved from 265,000 jobs in 2011.
"We support all actions that can contribute to increased solar job creation in Europe along the solar value chain," said Schaefer. "We believe that taking this position on the trade case supports this objective."
The UK Solar Trade Association welcomed the move, adding that they expect module costs to drop if the EPIA’s suggestion is accepted and the minimum import price is scrapped.
UK solar firms are generally more optimistic than their Euopean couterparts going forward, with the REA's senior solar advisor recently proclaiming: " Nothing will stop solar now - even if a new Government came in and said we are going to stop all subsidies tomorrow, the solar industry would continue on".