Turkey opens anti-dumping investigation against Chinese solar firms

Turkey’s Ministry of Economy has today issued a communiqué outlining the details of the beginning of an anti-dumping investigation against Chinese solar companies alleged to have unfairly imported solar cells into Turkey.

The case has been brought by three Turkish solar firms – Solartürk Enerji, Sunlego Enerji and Zahit Enerji – in which they allege that the importation of solar components by Chinese companies undermined Turkish import law on the prevention of unfair competition.

The dumping claims set out in the communiqué state that the Republic of China sold solar components into Turkey at factory values well below "normal values". The investigation will cover the 2013-2015 period, the Ministry of Economy said.

A Turkish EPC that did not wish to be named told pv magazine that developers that the opening of such proceedings could serve to paralyze domestic growth, at least in the short term, because the country lacks sufficient domestic capacity to meet demand. This situation is likely to improve over the next 9-12 months, they said, as planned capacity additions are brought online.

With imports of solar panels from other countries, this also brings the problem of the additional tax, which is determined by the weight of the modules.

Speaking to pv magazine in April at the ICCI exhibition in Istanbul, Osman Ozberk, vice president of Gunder, the International Solar Energy Society Turkey Section, warned that some sort of trade duties against China would likely be in the offing soon.

"Europe has duties, the U.S. has duties; this sort of thing happens throughout the world, so why should Turkey suffer?" he asked. "Governments should support their industries, and we don’t want to see a situation in Turkey similar to what happened in Spain, Italy and Greece, where the solar markets grew, but local manufacturing did not. That was unsustainable, and we are cautious of following that same path."

One of the key aims of Turkey’s burgeoning solar sector is to nurture a viable local manufacturing industry, and the government has recently launched an additional support mechanism on top of the FIT to do just that.

MIP rumors

Turkey’s Solar Energy Society Solarbaba told pv magazine that the move was expected by the industry, despite there being no logical reason to support it. Of the 600 MW of installed solar in Turkey, they say, around 80% are Chinese 1st tier modules with premium quality.

"The real motivation for the investigation could be to force the big international players to establish local manufacturing facilities in Turkey," said a Solarbaba spokesperson. "There are rumors that the MIP could be around 70 USD cents, which does not make sense at all in a country where we witness prices of around 0.48 USD/Watt for 1st tier modules.

"The result will be the same as in Europe: a shrinking market, hesitating foreigner investors, and many projects switching to standby mode.

According to Solarbaba the investigation, which only applies to Chinese modules at the moment, could be extended to other Asian countries. "Manufacturers now have 37 days to answer some detailed questions about their manufacturing costs.

"We know that the Chinese companies did anti-dumping in the past, and we know that no top 10 Chinese solar companies are selling under manufacturing costs. How will the Turkish government prove this?"

* Article updated on Monday July 4 to remove reference to the FIT bonus for developers that use locally produced components – this scheme was cancelled some weeks ago.