Intersolar Europe is always a key date in the solar calendar but this year’s show had it all, including three panel-smuggling arrests. Elsewhere, wafers were getting bigger, efficiency records were tumbling and new technologies were emerging. There was also more news on the solar car ports fad and Hanwha’s ongoing legal tussle.
The German solar company issued a statement over the weekend claiming it had been the victim of fraud perpetrated by its module importers and stating its intent to sue the offenders if the modules in question are found to have had their documents of origin deliberately altered.
Investigators have accused the Bad Staffelstein-based business of having purchased incorrectly-declared modules from China and evading around €23 million in import duties. The company’s head office and the private apartments of board members have been searched.
Quasi-governmental body the CPIA has released first-half figures for the world’s biggest solar marketplace which show production volumes for export markets continuing to expand and the domestic picture set to rebound after public solar subsidy levels were published.
In the fall of 2017, German customs had revealed a “fraud cartel” around the Chinese photovoltaic manufacturer Sunowe, which is said to have circumvented the applicable minimum import prices. Among the arrested suspects was a local politician, which drew significant attention to the case. This year, the trial started in the spring, but suspension came at the beginning of July when the customs office did not provide evidence in time. A restart of the trial is expected this winter.
If the world of solar was a newspaper, it would be a tabloid. There is no sector where gossip spreads quite so quickly and ultimately does not contribute much. For an example, Good! New Energy’s Rolf Heynen looks back to 2013, when Europe introduced the Minimum Import Price on Chinese solar panels.
China continued to take center stage in Q3 2018; however the focus shifted from its now notorious policy change. In both positive and negative news, Europe announced the end of the MIP, at almost the same time as the United States slapped tariffs on Chinese imports of inverters, AC modules and non-lithium batteries. Yin yang. Ping pong.
It was EPIA when he joined, and the European and global solar industry was a very different place. Outgoing CEO of what is now SolarPower Europe, James Watson has presided over a transformative period at the organisation, and departs to head up Eurogas right at the point the region’s solar sector is set for revival. Advancing a power-to-gas agenda, Watson says, will be a big part of his new challenge.
Six lawsuits have been filed against Sunowe employees accused of evading €20 million of European anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs. The case, now dubbed the “Solar module Cartel”, also involved the deputy district administrator of Erlangen-Höchstadt.
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