CASE calls on CASM to disclose subsidies

20. March 2012 | Markets & Trends, Industry & Suppliers, Top News | By:  Shamsiah Ali-Oettinger

The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) is calling on the seven members of the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) to disclose a complete list of government subsidies they have received over the decade. CASE disclosed that it finds the situation disturbing that such highly-subsidized companies can start a global trade war.

CASE has asked for CASM members to produce a list of the government subsidies they have received thus far.

As a U.S. federal government ruling over the photovoltaic trade case draws close, CASE has chosen to highlight a range of subsidies that CASM members have benefited from. SolarWorld in particular has been singled out for some detailed investigation.

The preliminary decision will come from the U.S. Department of Commerce. CASE has called on all members of CASM, including those unnamed, to list the state, federal and foreign incentives that they have received thus far.

"SolarWorld and CASM members claim that this entire debate is about fairness. As such, we expect that they will release a complete outline of the hundreds of millions of dollars in government support they have received in countries like Germany, Italy, Qatar and the United States," said Jigar Shah, President of CASE. "Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Commerce does not consider the hypocrisy of the petitioner or make a comparative evaluation. However, given the damaging nature of CASM’s crusade, the public deserves to know the truth about SolarWorld and the millions of dollars it has received in supply-side government subsidies," he added.

Public information shows that SolarWorld, for one, has been entitled to more than one hundred million dollars in direct supply-side subsidies. The German Handelsblatt listed the amount as €130 million in direct subsidies in Germany between 2003 and 2011. The U.S. Department of Energy, another source cited by CASE, stated that the company was given a clean energy manufacturing tax credit of US$82.2 million to expand its existing 100 MW photovoltaic plant to 500 MW. SolarWorld's press release shows that the company has also entered a joint venture with Qatar Development Bank, a Qatar government-backed investment bank for the development of a polysilicon facility in Qatar.

"It’s clear that SolarWorld is one of the most heavily-subsidized companies in the history of the solar industry," said Jigar Shah, President of CASE. "If their crusade is truly about fairness, we urge them to release a detailed list of all the subsidies and tax breaks they have received globally."

Another CASM member, MX Solar, has also received government incentives for its 50 MW manufacturing plant in New Jersey. The State of New Jersey announced that the company was cleared for US$3.3 million in subsidies under the state's Clean Energy Manufacturing Fund as CASE states.

Helios Solar Works, another CASM member, also has received supply-side government support, with US$1.4 million in loans from the Recovery Act funds from the Energy Department's State Energy Program (SEP) as CASE points out.

"It’s incredibly disturbing that such highly-subsidized companies can start a global trade war and damage the entire U.S. solar industry and threaten tens of thousands of American jobs by accusing their competitors of receiving subsidies. A war over subsidies in the solar industry is like a circular firing squad where everyone gets hurt," concluded Shah.

A U.S. federal government preliminary ruling on the solar trade dispute is imminent with many expecting it to find against the Chinese manufacturers and to impose some level of tariff. The second art of the trade case, a ruling over antidumping charges, is expecting also within months.


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