SolarWorlds Frank Asbeck stated in an interview recently with the German magazine Capital that, "Chinese rivals have been eating into the market share of European peers, potentially driving them out of business".
Asbeck also pointed to the apparent "dumping prices at which the Chinese products are sold at in the market". He is quoted as saying that when producers try to place huge quantities at low prices to destroy an entire industry, then competition policy has to step in". He adds that in 2011 alone, the Chinese central government and provinces have given credit guarantees of more than 21 billion euros (US$29 billion) to solar companies at rates less than two percent.
Suntech refutes these accusations. Being one of the leading Chinese solar companies, Suntech sets itself against dumping accusations as the company informs pv magazine.
Suntechs European chief Jerry Stokes stated, "Our credit terms at the China Development Bank (CDB) and other local banks are quite similar to those in other countries, as our mandatory publications show clearly on the New York Stock Exchange".
Suntechs Björn Emde also personally sees it as a marketing campaign, with accusations that are not all that new. He feels that the lack of definite names and the rather fantasy-like figures provide the new twist in the accusations.
Suntech has until now taken only a tenth of the credit offered by CDB, equivalent to seven billion dollars in claims. Stokes added that the average interest rate last year was more than 4.5 percent and that the CDB is not a charitable institution but one that pursues profit.
The finger-pointing is thus not a new thing. The accusations could be remerging due to the recent reports of bankruptcy and gloomy prospects that have been casting a rather uncertain shadow on the U.S. solar industry in recent weeks.
The Solyndra bankruptcy coupled with the Department of Energys (DOE) refusal of the loan guarantee for First Solar for the Topaz project and the follow-up SolarCity loan guarantee rejection seem to point towards a down-spiraling trend in the U.S. solar market. Reports point to the Solyndra meltdown as the reason behind the loan rejections.
SolarCity, a California-based developer of residential rooftop solar systems stated that all documentation has been submitted to the DOE for the US$275 million conditional loan guarantee earlier this month when the company signed an agreement with the government.
However, the company was told just a couple of days ago that it would need additional documentation to close the loan guarantee; something the company fears it would not be able to meet by the statutory deadline end of this month for the government to close all renewable energy loan guarantees.
Chief executive Lyndon Rive has been quoted as saying, "This is purely an unintended consequence of Solyndra’s bankruptcy and some people thinking that all the loan guarantees are similar to Solyndra’s."
Amidst the gloom, industry consultant for Solar & Semiconductor Markets, Ujjal Sen sees some light. He still believes that the development of the renewable energy sector would be the next big thing similar to what the world witnessed in the industrial revolution era – breakthrough innovation and large-scale deployment that would lead to mass employment globally while providing a huge benefit to the environment.
"I think its time the thought-leaders, financiers and industry proponents need to regroup and chart a sustainable course for this industry," he said.