Solar industry discusses the introduction of protective tariffs on chinese solar modules in europe

Posted On : 2014-01-11

In light of the European Commission’s decision on June 4 to introduce provisional protective tariffs on solar modules, cells and wafers imported from China, the panel discussion between high-caliber figures held for the first time at Intersolar Europe’s General Session (inaugural event) on June 19 focused on this topical issue. The controversial topics of the much disputed decision and its far-reaching consequences were discussed by representatives from industry, research and associations.rnrnArguing in favor of the protective tariffs were Milan Nitzschke, President of EU ProSun, Belgium, and Jerry Stokes, Chief Executive Officer of ITS INNOTECH SOLAR AS, Norway. Milan Nitzschke criticized the way in which the Chinese government is highly subsidizing its country’s solar industry, making it possible for Chinese companies to sell their products below production costs. A product is deemed to be sold “below value” if its export price is significantly lower than the price at which it is sold domestically. The intense price war has already forced a significant number of European solar companies to file for insolvency. Nitzschke believes it is unlikely that the protective tariffs will have a negative effect on the growth of the solar industry in Europe, adding that the introduction of such duties in the USA has resulted in the American market continuing to grow and system prices falling. Jerry Stokes, Chief Executive Officer of the Norwegian cell and module manufacturer ITS INNOTECH SOLAR AS, which manufactures most of its products in Europe, also spoke in support of fair and sustainable competition and declared himself against protectionism in China.rnrnOn the other hand, Dr. Florian Wessendorf, Managing Director of Photovoltaic Equipment at the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), Frankfurt am Main, and Peter J. Desmet, a board member of the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy (AFASE), Belgium, do not support the introduction of protective tariffs. Dr. Florian Wessendorf stated that they have led to great levels of uncertainty within the solar industry, causing investors to hesitate and endangering growth in the sector. Peter J. Desmet was of a similar opinion. The board member of AFASE advocated open access to the market without protective tariffs. He believes that above all falling module prices provide an opportunity for the downstream solar industry in Europe to develop specialisms with new business models, stating that the particular strength of the solar sector is the fact that the individual components of its value-added chain are well linked internationally.rnrnDr. Dörte Fouquet, a lawyer working at Becker Büttner Held, Belgium, who has been working in her specialist area of energy law for many years, spoke in favor of a solution being found at the negotiating table. The anti-dumping duties currently amount to 11.8%. This relatively low amount is intended to be valid for two months before automatically rising to 47.6% for a duration of four months. The panel explained that the European Commission aims to use the moderate initial rate of the duty’s two-stage introduction period to take the oppositions of all those affected into account and create the opportunity to rapidly open negotiations. However, it is ultimately the Council of the European Union that makes the final decision concerning the protective tariffs, and if ruled in favor of, they would apply for a period of five years. According to Dr. Dörte Fouquet, in order to prevent this, the EU member states who have their own solar industries must begin negotiations with China immediately.rnrnThe views of Intersolar Europe 2013’s exhibitors on the protective tariffs are also anything but unanimous and this issue has formed a central topic of conversation at the exhibition. The coming month will reveal whether those affected are able to resolve the conflict quickly.rn


Egreen was exhibitor at Intersolar Europe 2013: The industry turns out in force

Posted On : 2014-01-11

Over the past three days, some 50,000 visitors from more than 150 countries flocked to Intersolar Europe at Messe München. A ...

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