Problems could be mounting for Chinese module suppliers as the news broke late Friday that the EU is to extend its solar trade investigation to Malaysia and Taiwan. Following a request in April by SolarWorld to investigate, the EU will look into whether solar products originating from Malaysian and Taiwanese manufacturing facilities have been commissioned by Chinese solar companies in an attempt to circumvent anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed by the European Commission.
In response to these duties, many leading Chinese manufacturers negotiated a minimum import price (MIP) to the EU, but details emerged recently of some companies including ET Solar, Canadian Solar and ReneSola of trying to obfuscate this agreement via varying means of bundling, pricing and servicing deals.
Malaysia and more
Prior to news of the EUs investigation into Malaysian manufacturing practices, Chinese solar producer JinkoSolar announced that its large-scale PV cell and module manufacturing facility is officially operational.
The facility will receive $100 million in tooling investment, and is expected to reach a nameplate capacity of 500 MW of cells and 450 MW of multicrystalline modules annually. With the strong support of the local government and MIDA (Malaysian Industrial Development Authority) we were able to rapidly build and begin production in our new facility in Penang, said JinkoSolar CEO Kangping Chen.
JinkoSolar had a good week, all told. Its Q1 2015 financial results were published, revealing that the company increased its year-on-year revenue by 36.5%, with shipments also up by 35.8% over the space of a year.
In the emerging solar market of Brazil, Chinese battery and solar manufacturer BYD announced plans to build a 400 MW PV module factory in the country, in conjunction with APEX-Brasil.
The fab is slated to begin production in the first half of 2016 and will be located in the city of Sao Paulo. BYD general manager of global solar sales Tom Zhao told pv magazine that the company is looking to move away from traditional PV modules and produce more glass-glass modules, which offer longer lifetimes and warranties.
Staying in the southern Hemisphere, Australias solar industry was up (down?) in arms this week following a report from think-tank The Grattan Institute that claimed solar subsidies in the country had cost Australia more than AUS$9 billion, with very little to show for it.
As expected, the report was quickly torn to pieces by a number of solar advocates, not least Giles Parkinson of RenewEconomy, who argued that the very technical premise that the report was based upon was unsound.
The big story to come out of India this week was news of a 500 MW PV manufacturing MOU between Chinas JA Solar and Essel Infraprojects Limited (EIL) for the establishment of an Indian solar cell and module manufacturing facility.
Although only at MOU stage, the announcement served to further embolden interest in Indias solar industry, which also this week saw the launch of a Solar Power Store on Amazon India, the Indian subsidiary of the U.S.-based e-commerce retailer.
The store will sell everything solar-power related, from solar lanterns to solar panels and home system kits, and will also offer consumers low-cost financing options to ensure as many of Indias growing middle classes as possible can choose solar for their homes.
US energy landscape continues its transition
The news from the U.S. solar industry in recent days has been almost uniformly positive. A week ago, the SEIA reported that solar can grow by more than 25% in 2016, while data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed this week that solar is the fastest-growing power source in the U.S. since the shale gas boom of a few years back.
The EIA expects solar PV to grow by more than 30% over the next 12 months, and despite generating just 1% of the countrys energy, is increasing its share of the energy mix at a pace that is almost unprecedented.
A couple of days later, the EIA also revealed data that showed that Americans now consume renewable energy at proportions not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s, when wood-burning stoves were the cheapest and sometimes only source of domestic heating and power.
Spanish lending institute Santander launched a London-based renewable energy fund totaling $2 billion in collaboration with two of Canadas largest pension funds Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments). The fund, called Cubico Sustainable Investments, will invest in renewable and water infrastructure projects in the U.K., Brazil, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Uruguay.