EU Pro-Sun: No influence on module prices

27. September 2012 | Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends, Top News, Trade cases | By:  Michael Fuhs

After the anti-dumping accusations, EU ProSun has now filed a complaint against alleged unfair subsidies given to Chinese solar manufacturers by the Chinese government. Different opinions arise on the impact this will have on module prices and the PV market.

The investigations have already begun in Brussels.

The initiative EU ProSun, which made the complaints to the European Commission held a brief information session at the EU PVSEC yesterday. President of the initiative and SolarWorld spokesperson, Milan Nitzschke said he can understand that customers are happy buying cheaper modules. "But it is not sustainable. There is also no reason to expect price increases if the filed suit is successful," he added.

The AFASE (Alliance for affordable Solar Energy) is opposing these claims. It argues that module prices, as a result of a successful suit by EU ProSun, will increase from US$0.75 to $1.65. "That is nonsense," replied Nitzschke. On the contrary, if Chinese manufacturers are the only ones left as a result of subventions, the prices will increase again in three to four years. Fair competition is the best guarantee for price reductions.

The charge is that diplomatic channels were not used first. It went directly to Brussels. But Nitzschke sees the filed complaint as one way of starting talks. "As long as you do not know what has happened, you have no way of talking about it," he argues, adding, "Hence it is important that a proper investigation is undertaken."

That the anti-subvention accusation is only now in the light after the anti-dumping claim was filed end of July had to do with time. For the anti-dumping action, the EU has 15 months to decide on punitive tariffs. For the anti-subvention claim, it has a total of 13 months.

Nitzschke cited several references that linked to the WTO rules on illegal subsidies. In the Chinese five-year plan, it is official that the state banks provide credits. Bloomberg reported this week that the China Development Bank (CDB) had provided credits of over $43 billion to 12 solar firms, including Suntech, Trina, Yingli and Sungrow. Bloomberg cited the source as "Official China Securities Journal".

Ben Hill, president of Trina Europe, disagreed with the allegations. He expressed doubt on the source and did not want to confirm the Bloomberg report.

Hill said that Trina, also a member of AFASE, is listed on the New York stock exchange and, therefore, very open about its funding. A similar argument was also presented by Chinese manufacturer Suntech. Hill added, "We have loans, but we don't use them." He did not comment on the lenders. Also the 120% price increase statement was not based on calculations of the AFASE experts.

"EU ProSun claims that in order for the EU producers to operate profitably and to generate a sufficient return on investment, price increases of 120 percent should be achieved for modules and wafers, and 80 percent for cells," he also said. The success of these claims will not only endanger Chinese manufacturers but also SolarWorld itself because with high prices, the German market will collapse.

Translated and edited by Shamsiah Ali-Oettinger.


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