UK solar industry calls for flexible minimum module price

U.K. solar trade body the Solar Trade Association (STA) has joined the chorus of dissenting voices after the announcement of a deal between the EU and China over solar panel imports.

With European trade commissioner Karel De Gucht confirming this morning a deal has been reached involving a minimum price for Chinese-made modules and an annual volume cap on imports to the EU, the STA said the U.K. government must alter its solar support policy to save solar projects in the country.

With the minimum module price for Chinese panels widely reported to be set at €0.56 per watt (US$0.74/W), the STA says that price floor, applied to U.K. installers ‘risks making existing projects uneconomic.’

In a press statement released on Monday, the STA called for the duration of the Brussels agreement to be shortened from the two-and-a-half years announced, for a fluctuating or lower minimum price and/or for the price floor to be adjusted for volume growth and cost reductions.

‘Brussels’ meddling’

STA chief executive Paul Barwell said, in response to the emerging details of the trade dispute deal: "Thank God we’ve moved a long way from the original proposals, which were truly appalling and without justification.

"However, we’re concerned the deal reached by China and the commission will ultimately achieve little, as German manufacturers are unlikely to be able to compete long-term with the Asian giants.

"Meanwhile in the short term, the proposals could do real damage to the U.K. downstream solar industry and to national deployment levels.

"They leave the U.K. non-domestic solar industry in a very difficult position, when in fact the U.K. is one of the major EU growth markets, and ought to remain so."

The organisation is calling for the U.K. government to do more to assist the domestic solar industry and in wording designed to appeal to the governing coalition’s anti-EU sentiment, STA PV specialist Ray Noble added: "It would make little sense from a public value-for-money perspective for the U.K. government to allow the solar industry to grind to a halt because of Brussels’ meddling."