The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) has broken the calm before the storm as the solar industry awaits the decision of a preliminary hearing by the US Department of Commerce to dictate anti-subsidy tariffs against Chinese imports of solar cells. CASE has alleged that members of the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) are hypocritical in their denouncement against Chinese manufacturers, having themselves received subsidies from foreign governments.
CASE is demanding all seven CASM members – including the four remaining anonymous companies divulge a complete list of the government (state, federal and foreign) subsidies they have received over the past decade.
CASE claims SolarWorld alone has received more than one hundred million dollars in direct supply-side subsidies giving the company a competitive advantage. CASE has supplied details of some of the subsidies given to SolarWorld:
According to public information, SolarWorld alone has received more than one hundred million dollars in direct supply-side subsidies giving the German company a competitive advantage. Courtesy of CASE, below are details of subsidies provided to SolarWorld:
• Handelsblatt, a German publication, stated SolarWorld received €130 million in direct subsidies in Germany between 2003 and 2011.
• The Portland Tribune reported SolarWorld received a US$11 million business energy tax credit in Oregon that it immediately sold to Wal-Mart for US$7.3 million in 2009. It then applied for a second round of tax credits and received an additional US$19.4 million.
• According the US Department of Energy, SolarWorld was “awarded a clean energy manufacturing tax credit of US$82.2 million to expand its existing 100MW solar photovoltaic manufacturing plant to 500MW.”
• We at PV-Tech reported SolarWorld received around US$19 million in preferential export financing for projects in India.
• Not realizing, this would come back to haunt the company, SolarWorld released a press release announcing a joint-venture partnership with the Qatar Development Bank, a Qatar government-backed investment bank, for the construction of polysilicon facility in Qatar.
• According to The New York Times, quoting a SolarWorld executive, the company “was in the process of obtaining US$4 million in research assistance from the federal government.”
• As a corporate resident in the Hillsboro Enterprise Zone, SolarWorld is entitled to 100% property tax abatement for up to five years.
“SolarWorld and CASM members claim that this entire debate is about fairness. As such, we expect that they will release a complete outline of the hundreds of millions of dollars in government support they have received in countries like Germany, Italy, Qatar and the United States,” said Jigar Shah, president of CASE. “Unfortunately, the US Department of Commerce does not consider the hypocrisy of the petitioner or make a comparative evaluation.”
Shah continued: “It’s clear that SolarWorld is one of the most heavily-subsidized companies in the history of the solar industry. We urge them to release a detailed list of all the subsidies and tax breaks they have received globally.”
Public records also show Italy-based MX Solar received US government incentives for its 50MW manufacturing facility in New Jersey. In addition it received US$3.3 million in subsidies under the state of New Jersey’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Fund.
Helios Solar Works is also a victim under scrutiny, accused of receiving a US$1.4 million loan from the Recovery Act funds from the Energy Department’s State Energy Program (SEP), effective December 2011.
“It’s incredibly disturbing that such highly-subsidized companies can start a global trade war and damage the entire US solar industry and threaten tens of thousands of American jobs by accusing their competitors of receiving subsidies. A war over subsidies in the solar industry is like a circular firing squad where everyone gets hurt,” added Shah.