German coalition for no trade barriers grows, EC rules against EU ProSun’s calls for MIP benchmark change

The Solar Alliance for Europe (SAFE), which is fighting for an end to MIPs this December on solar products coming from China to the EU, has gained a new supporter in the form of Trianel, a cooperative of 40 municipal utilities in Germany. They have signed an open statement for a solar market with no barriers.

A number of others have also called for an end to the trade barriers this December, including 14 Members of the European Parliament. EU ProSun has asked for an expiry review of the undertaking. The EU Commission in Brussels has until December 7 to decide if it will open a procedure. If it is opened, MIPs, import restrictions and existing duties would continue to apply. German Chancellor, Angela Merkel also called for the MIP to be extended during a recent trip to China.

Request denied

In other MIP news, the European Commission has terminated a review, requested by SolarWorld-led EU ProSun on January 29, which investigated the replacement of Bloomberg New Finance’s (BNEF’s) module price index as a benchmark for setting the MIP in the EU-China solar trade dispute. The MIP is adjusted quarterly based on international spot market prices for modules.

EU ProSun claimed the number of Chinese solar companies reporting price data had "increased significantly," particularly since the beginning of 2014, meaning the benchmark was no longer representative of global module prices.

On May 5, the EC launched an investigation into the matter. Having reviewed the evidence submitted, it says it is confident the index is still representative "because it includes prices submitted by Chinese respondents." Not only that, but "the proportion of Chinese respondents in the existing benchmark has increased to a level better reflecting the share of Chinese producers in the world solar market."

As such, the review has been terminated. Interested parties now have until November 16 to comment on the decision. "All comments will be considered before a final decision is taken," said the EC.

Commenting, EU ProSun president, Milan Nitzsche, said the EC’s reasoning for its decision is "absurd." It is true that an index should reflect world market prices and that Chinese solar PV manufacturers should be included, he said, but the Bloomberg index is too narrow in its consideration and does not reflect the real price developments, since the share of Chinese manufacturers has disproportionately increased. This in turn has completely changed the basis for determining the MIP, he continued.

He suggested there should be adaptation mechanism for the MIP, which adequately reflects the technical progress, costs and price cuts of the module manufacturers.

Jenny Chase, manager, solar insight at Bloomberg New Energy Finance told pv magazine, "We hope this is the right decision, and will do our best to manage the index and its participants for a consistent and fair benchmark using a well-defined methodology."