Dutch authorities investigating possible PV module import violations

Customs officials in the Netherlands are examining solar modules at the Port of Rotterdam due to possible violations by an importer suspected of circumventing minimum prices for Chinese PV products.

According to pv magazine information, minimum prices in the EU for modules from China are set to increase on April 1.

Dutch customs authorities have launched an investigation into possible import violations after an importer in the Netherlands reportedly shipped solar modules from China to Europe via Malaysia and Taiwan. Investigators suspect the solar modules originated from China be re-labeled in the ports in Taiwan and Malaysia.

According to information obtained by pv magazine, the modules are being held in the Port of Rotterdam for further examination. Customs authorities have seized documents as part of the investigation. It’s likely the modules would have had to pay customs duties of 65%. Authorities put the total amount for the present case at €1.2 million.

Executives at REC Solar have suspected such violations against the European Union undertaking for quite some time. "It’s unbelievable that suddenly so many modules from Taiwan are being imported to Europe, especially if you look at the existing capacity there,” REC Solar Senior Vice President Luc Graré told pv magazine.

Dutch trade publication Solar Magazine has reported that PV modules from 22 different manufacturers are being held in several European ports due to possible import violations as part of a wider investigation.

Minimum price to rise in April

The EU’s next review of minimum import prices for Chinese solar panels is on April 1. While an increase looks increasingly likely, a final decision has not been made. The review of the minimum price is based on the price development on the Bloomberg New Energy Finance module price index. The weak euro in particular could now lead to an increase in the minimum price for Chinese PV imports to Europe.

The European Commission last year reduced the minimum import prices for Chinese-made crystalline solar modules from €0.56 to €0.53 per watt. PV modules from other non-Chinese manufacturers are not bound by minimum import prices in the EU.