European solar manufacturers have officially launched their own initiative to urge the European Commission into investigating what it considers unfair trade practices by Chinese solar manufacturers. The EU ProSun initiative states that its goal is to “maintain a sustainable and vibrant solar manufacturing base in Europe.”
The group is comprised over 20 European companies representing many in the EU solar industrial production. The group notes that Europe’s solar industry is being hurt by “unfair competition” from China that has resulted in layoffs and companies going bankrupt. The group states that without Europe taking a stand, there will be no manufacturing or R&D solar jobs left in Europe.
Milan Nitzschke, president of EU ProSun and vice president and spokesperson for SolarWorld commented, “We strongly believe in Europe's solar future. Therefore, this week we officially requested that the European Commission investigate unfair trade practices by Chinese solar manufacturers. Chinese companies have captured over 80% of the EU market for solar products from virtually zero only a few years ago. EU manufacturers have the world's best solar technologies but are beaten in their home market due to illegal dumping of Chinese solar products below their cost of production.”
“Not only is China clearly dumping cheap solar products in the EU but the government readily admits to subsidizing its solar manufacturers for exports. China has no natural cost advantage over the EU given labour accounts for around 10% of production costs, and it must import raw materials and equipment to produce their solar cells and modules,” Nitzschke continued.
The US government recently concluded that Chinese exporters have dumped solar cells in the US at margins of 30% to 250%. EU ProSun notes that the US’s decisions about China’s trade practices will more than likely increase the chance of trade defense measure in the EU, especially since US measures will presumably mean that Chinese exports will be diverted to the EU.
Nitzschke concluded: “European industry does not want to increase prices but rather stop the current ruinous race to the bottom. If the EU acts quickly, we have a chance to maintain a sustainable solar manufacturing base in Europe for the benefit of jobs, growth, innovation and the planet.”
Trina Solar has offered the following statement regarding the EU ProSun Initiative:
Trina Solar believes that its transactions with customers in Europe were made in accordance with fair trade practices. It has and will continue to, adhere to prudent and recognized industry practices and standards in the European Union.
“Trina Solar's track record of technology innovation has contributed to great value creation for our global and European partners,” said Jifan Gao, chairman and chief executive officer of Trina Solar.
“We remain committed to the strong relationships we have developed in the European solar industry and will continue to deliver industry leading solutions together with our customers,” added Ben Hill, president of Trina Solar Europe. “Open markets and increased competition have made solar energy in the European Union affordable, contributing to an increasingly diversified European energy mix and progress toward the ambitious EU 2020 climate change targets and 2050 roadmap. Today, the price for solar energy is already competitive with more carbon-intensive energy sources in some areas in Europe. A misguided trade conflict could undermine years of solar industry progress, investment and innovation in Europe,” said Hill.