The minimum price for Chinese PV modules imported into the EU free of tariffs is set to be cut from €0.56 (US$0.77) to €0.53/watt (US$0.73), according to reports in China.
As part of the price undertaking agreed between Brussels and Beijing, an import quota of 7GW of modules was set alongside the minimum import price (MIP). Any product sold below this level or in excess of each manufacturers’ individual share of the quota is subjected to punitive duties.
The price undertaking includes a mechanism that allows the €0.56/watt price floor to be adjusted to reflect market conditions. The pricing level is based on Bloomberg’s Module Spot Price Index.
Chinese press reports claim that a number of industry insiders have indicated that the three eurocent drop is imminent.
An official at China's Chamber of Commerce Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME), which negotiated the deal on behalf of the country’s manufacturers, refused to comment on the speculation when contacted by PV Tech.
John Clancy, EU Trade Spokesman told PV Tech: “As part of the agreement of the undertaking from August 2013, the development of the minimum price would be reviewed every three months and the import volume every year according to market developments of international spot prices and consumption in the European Union respectively.
"Any change to the minimum price or import volume only affects modules and cells, as wafers have been excluded from the measures since December 2013,” said Clancy.
But there is anecdotal evidence that manufacturers from outside China have been selling at levels below €0.56/W putting Chinese manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage.
According to Wuxi Suntech CEO Eric Luo, modules have been soled into Europe from some countries for as little as €0.51/W (US$0.70). He said this was only happening at small volumes.
“If people continue to sell at low prices then the MIP will probably be adjusted in Q2,” he said during a press event at the Ecobuild conference in London.
The undertaking uses the Community Frontier level price, the price as the products arrive.
A UK distributor, who asked to remain anonymous, said that modules from major “consumer electronics” brands (not using Chinese manufactured cells), such as LG and Hyundai, were currently being sold to installers at around £0.58/Wp, or €0.69/Wp, for a typical 250Wp monocrystalline module.
Some Chinese modules, with Taiwanese cells, could sell for as little as £0.47/Wp (€0.56/Wp), he confirmed, but incoterms, credit lines and VAT and duty aspects vary from case to case.
Direct comparisons between paid prices and the MIP are difficult to ascertain given the glut of additional costs that need to be accounted for, such as the PV-Cycle burden, or variable interest rates added for credit-line extensions. How these are accounted for and interpreted could drive fiscal figures for modules supplied to the UK up or down.
Additional reporting by Cathy Li