SolarWorld asked to explain recent Qatari backing


Further mud was flung today in the ongoing divide between SolarWorld and vast tracts of the U.S. solar industry as Jigar Shah, president of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), called on SolarWorld to explain a recent investment in the company by Qatari firm, Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec).

SolarWorld announced earlier this week the successful closure of a year-long financial restructuring process, announcing that the previously beleaguered solar company had been able to reduce its financial liabilities by 57% and attract the investment of QSTec.

The Qatar company, which has state backing, has secured a 29% stake in SolarWorld – an acquisition that piqued the attention of CASE, prompting its president to issue the following statement:

"CASE calls on SolarWorld to explain its investment from government-backed Qatari company Qatar Solar Technologies," wrote Shah. "As announced this week, QSTec provided capital for the struggling German company’s restructuring – a company whose only leverage in the market is a complaint that has the potential to cripple the U.S. solar industry.

"As U.S economic interests hang in the balance between two foreign companies, SolarWorld and QTec should explain how the latter’s investment makes any sense other than as an effort to undermine renewable energy deployment in the U.S."

SolarWorld Industries America’s strategic affairs director, Ben Santarris, hit back at CASE, telling pv magazine: "We think that this ersatz coalition, in profitably carrying water for China’s geopolitical ambitions, has reached a new height of promulgating twaddle. However, by definition, it’s hard for us to comment substantively on twaddle."

Earlier in February, SolarWorld CEO and founder Frank Asbeck penned a letter to U.S.President Barack Obama that warned of the impending collapse of the country’s solar industry if the White House didn’t make further efforts to close a loophole allowing China to circumnavigate U.S.-imposed anti dumping and countervailing duties by manufacturing the cells for their solar products in Taiwan to then be shipped to the American market.

An investigation by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) last week revealed that it had indeed found evidence that Chinese-made solar products were harming American manufacturers.

A decision on what further measures will be taken by the ITC is to be made on March 26 in relation to anti dumping duties, and June 9 for countervailing duties.