Leading German solar players call for end to minimum price

Polysilicon producer Wacker, wholesaler and EPC Baywa r.e. and MVV, one of the lager utilities in Germany, have met in Berlin to announced that they will take a strong position in the upcoming discussions concerning the punitive tariff duties on Chinese solar modules and the minimum import price agreement (MIP).

”All trade barriers should end,” says Christian Westermeier, vice president marketing, sales & application engineering at Wacker Chemie. He includes in his demand not only to abolish minimum prices on crystalline modules imported into the EU, but also the duties on solar glass imported to the EU and the minimum price agreement which Wacker has itself with the Chinese government on polysilicon imported to China.

Officially the undertaking between EU and China, which includes the MIP for modules, ends on December 6, 2015. However, EU Prosun has already declared that it will request a review as early this autumn. If the European Commission agrees to this, the undertaking may be prolonged through the review process.

At the end this might even lead to a prolongation of the undertaking by five years, says Jochen Hauff, CEO of the wholesale division of Baywa r.e. In this case Europe would find itself disconnected from solar component and project cost reductions.

“We run the risk, that other countries will reep the rewards,” says Hauff. There is still time, however, to negotiate and to bring to an end all PV trade barriers.

According to the estimation by Wacker, Baywa r.e. and MVV the costs of PV in Europe is 10% higher than they would be without trade barriers.

"The minimum import price has prevented a further price reduction in recent years," says Westermeier. According to Westermeier even the Germany Federal Ministry of Economics has recognized this and now sees it as being the main cause of the weak Germany solar market in 2015. Westermeier added, that each additional gigawatt of PV installed in the country would create between 8,000 to 9,000 new jobs in Germany. Because of the sharp decline of the number of installations in recent years, many jobs were lost. This number can be as high as 160,000, according to estimates by Wacker. Around 60,000 people remain employed in the German solar industry at present.

Representatives of all three companies assume that photovoltaic system prices could half in the coming five to seven years. Thus, photovoltaic energy generation would arrive by 2020 to 2022 on a cost level where it would be attractive to investors without any subsidy, added Holger Krawinkel, Head of Customer Experience at MVV Energie.

Translation by Michael Fuh and edited by Jonathan Gifford