This morning pv magazine reported on manufacturing figures released by trade group Solar Power Europe, which stated that PV module manufacturing capacity and utilization had both fallen in Europe in 2016. However, in a new twist to this story EU ProSun, a trade group backed by SolarWorld, is disputing Solar Power Europe’s figures.
Solar Power Europe had stated that European PV module manufacturing capacity had fallen from 6.9 GW to 6.7 GW over the course of 2016, with utilization falling to only 40% – meaning a mere 2.7 GW of modules produced.
EU ProSun President Milan Nitschke, who also serves as vice-president at SolarWorld, says that SolarWorld was never contacted in the survey, despite being Europe’s largest solar manufacturer. Nitschke also estimates that PV manufacturing capacities in Europe increased in 2016 as opposed to 2015, citing examples of new lines, reactivations and upgrades at Aleo Solar, CS Wismar, Heckert Solar and Recom.
However, Solar Power Europe has countered that much of SolarWorld’s data on production is readily available due to its status as a public company. Solar Power Europe Executive Advisor Michael Schmela states that over the year SolarWorld’s annual European module production capacity increased from 950 MW to 1 GW – not enough to offset declines at other companies.
“Based on our research we do not see growth in active EU module capacities,” Schmela told pv magazine. “That would be a very strange development in today’s solar market situation in the EU.”
“Not only is demand generally very low for several years now, it likely went down again in 2016. We see consolidation, M&A activities in the EU module sector.”
EU ProSun and Solar Power Europe disagree sharply over policy, with Solar Power Europe calling for a repeal of the Minimum Import Price and SolarWorld backing continued trade action against China.
“Instead of irritating with dubious figures Solar Power Europe would be better advised to support fair and free competition and a sustainable growth of manufacturing industry and market in Europe,” stated Milan Nitschke of EU ProSun.
Update: This article was updated at 3:15 PM Central European Time to incorporate a response by Michael Schmela of Solar Power Europe to EU ProSun statements.