European solar industry puts forward case to end trade measures on Chinese PV

Representing the formalization of the position that SolarPower Europe has had for a number of years, the European solar association has led a consortium of solar organizations to ask the European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmstrom, to drop PV trade barriers against China. The letter puts forward a case that the trade defense measures against China are actually hindering the development of the solar industry in Europe.

The 34 organizations come from all across the continent, representing a staggering 1.3 million European jobs and more than 120,000 companies. It is a bold letter that calls for the minimum import price (MIP), and the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures on Chinese PV imports to be dropped.

The EU adopted the trade measures in December 2013, with the goal of protecting the solar sector in Europe. However, these organizations now believe that they are counterproductive, and actually have a negative impact on the solar industry in Europe, along the whole value chain.

“This is an overwhelming show of support from organizations across the EU working in solar,” said SolarPower Europe CEO, James Watson. “The measures have been in place for more than three years without any real benefit to the European solar industry.”

The crux of the argument, outlined within the letter, is that these measures are making solar more expensive in Europe, which is affecting the entire value chain. This in turn is affecting the competitiveness of solar energy generation and is prolonging financial support from European governments.

Additionally, the letter points out, hindering the competitiveness of solar energy is contrary to the goal of the EU to combat climate change and reduce carbon emissions. “European jobs, GVA, climate change policy, consumer interest and manufacturing interests are all being undermined by the trade defense measures,” reads the letter.

The letter calls for the immediate end to the trade barriers that exist, however, what is likely is that the European Commission will wait until the beginning of 2017 to make any decisions, as that is when it must make a recommendation on the measures.

“We need a better, more specific approach to support module producers in Europe, trade measures are a blunt instrument harming more than 80% of solar manufacturing jobs and all downstream jobs in Europe today,” continued Watson. “The Commission needs to develop a new way forward for solar without trade duties and price mechanisms.”