EU ProSun launched to spearhead PV trade case

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As in the U.S., where CASM, or the Coalition of American Solar Manufacturers was created, SolarWorld and the as of yet other anonymous solar manufacturers, have created the EU ProSun initiative, led by SolarWorld's head of marketing, communications and sustainability, Milan Nitzschke. The group is said to represent the "majority of EU solar industrial production."

Commenting, Nitzschke said, "This week we officially requested that the European Commission investigate unfair trade practices by Chinese solar manufacturers. Chinese companies have captured over 80 percent of the EU market for solar products from virtually zero only a few years ago. EU manufacturers have the world's best solar technologies but are beaten in their home market due to illegal dumping of Chinese solar products below their cost of production."

The group added that Europe’s solar chances are being "decimated" by unfair competition, which has led to both layoffs and insolvencies. "Unless the EU takes action, there will no longer be any manufacturing or R&D solar jobs left in Europe," it said in a statement released.

Nitzschke continued, "European industry does not want to increase prices but rather stop the current ruinous race to the bottom. If the EU acts quickly, we have a chance to maintain a sustainable solar manufacturing base in Europe for the benefit of jobs, growth, innovation and the planet."

According to the newly-created ProSun website, the goals of the initiative are:

  • Solar for Europe's Future – Increasing the share of solar and renewable energy;
  • Sustainable Solar – Solar products should be manufactured using the highest environmental and labour standards, embracing new technologies and supporting local communities; and
  • Healthy Competition – Undistorted competition as the motor of innovation and affordability over the long term.

As previously reported, the European Commission has 45 days to decide whether it will open the trade case or not. If it does go ahead, a preliminary judgment is expected to be made no later than 2013 and punitive tariffs could apply retroactively, as is the case in the U.S.

On March 1, a new European coalition was formed, the Alliance For Affordable Solar Energy (AFASE). It was launched to "protect free trade in the European solar sector". According to a statement released at the time, over 70 global solar companies representing the entire supply chain, including Suntech, Trina, Yingli and Canadian Solar have joined. Responding to the news yesterday, July 26, it wrote, "The introduction of punitive tariffs on Chinese solar products in the EU would seriously harm the prospects of photovoltaics in Europe and threaten thousands of jobs in the whole industry."

Till Richter, managing partner of the German solar company Richter Solar added, "The EU largely profits from open markets and free trade. Protectionist measures create a ‘lose-lose' situation on many fronts. Therefore it is imperative for all players in the global solar marketplace to work constructively together to resolve any trade dispute jointly through negotiations rather than through unilateral actions."

Trina Solar further stated that it "believes that its transactions with customers in Europe were made in accordance with fair trade practices. It has, and will continue to, adhere to prudent and recognized industry practices and standards in the European Union. Trina Solar is confident that these facts will be affirmed with the proceedings."

In the U.S., following the announcement of the formation of CASM, the Coalition of Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) was established, spearheaded by those U.S.-based companies opposed to the antidumping and countervailing duty complaints.

Writing exclusively for pv magazine last December, Jigar Shah, co-founder of CASE and founder of SunEdison and Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., and president of CASM put forth their arguments in the dichotomous debate.

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