Fabian Demicoli

China’s solar industry faces second EU probe


Commission investigation into alleged
dumping of solar glass comes three months after start of a bigger case against
Chinese makers of solar panels. The European Commission launched a
second investigation into allegations that Chinese producers in the
solar-energy sector are dumping their products on the European market.  

In November, the Commission said it
was investigating whether Chinese producers of solar panels – which comprise
cells, wafers and modules – have been selling their products on the European
market at below their market value. The investigation announced today is into
prices charged for one component of solar panels – solar glass used in solar
modules – and the size of the European market is substantially smaller, at €150
million-€200m rather than €21 billion in the case of solar panels. The Commission,
which is obliged to take up dumping complaints with corroborating evidence, now
has 15 months – until late May next year – to complete its investigation. After
nine months, it could decide whether to impose temporary duties on Chinese
solar glass. Once the investigation is complete, it could apply duties for five
years.  

The group of European producers that
brought the complaint – ProSun Glass – says that some Chinese solar glass is
being sold in Europe at half its market value.  

The Commission has not decided yet
how it will gauge what the fair market value is. In the case of solar panels,
the reference – or ‘analogue' – market was the United States and the prices
charged by its producers. For solar glass, the prices charged by Turkish or Taiwanese
producers may serve as the reference.  

The group that brought the complaint
against Chinese solar-panel producers, ProSun, says that its membership and
operations are distinct from those of the group that lodged the complaint taken
up today by the Commission, ProSun Glass.  

The Commission says that the two
cases are being handled by two separate teams and that the two markets are
distinct, in part because solar glass can also be used in products other than
solar panels.  

Both investigative teams would,
however, have to consider the impact on the broader solar-energy market in
Europe, as investigators are obliged to consider the ‘community interest' – the
potential impact of duties on other markets and policy area.  

ProSun's decision to bring a
complaint to the Commission has split the solar industry in Europe, with many
companies arguing that imposing duties would shrink the market, potentially
costing hundreds of thousands of jobs. 

The effect, they argue, would be to
make the solar industry less competitive at a point when the industry, whose
birth was eased with large subsidies, is capable of producing energy at prices
that are competitive with those charged for traditional sources of energy.

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