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European Commission Ends Probe Into Chinese Solar Firms

The European Commission will end an investigation into Chinese solar companies after the firms withdrew from bidding for a solar power project in Romania, Thierry Breton, the European Internal Market Commissioner said on Monday.    

The European Commission opened in April an in-depth investigation under the Foreign Subsidies Regulation into two companies – ENEVO, which includes LONGi Solar Technologie GmbH, as well as Shanghai Electric UK Co. Ltd. and Shanghai Electric Hong Kong International Engineering Co. Ltd. The investigations related to the potential market distortive role of foreign subsidies given to bidders in a public procurement procedure.

The companies were bidding for the design, construction, and operation of a photovoltaic park in EU member state Romania, with an installed power of 454.97 megawatts (MW)—a project partially financed by the EU Modernisation Fund.

The EU opened the investigation after finding sufficient indications that both bidders had been granted foreign subsidies that distort the internal EU market.

But the Chinese companies have withdrawn from bidding, and therefore “the Commission will close its in-depth investigation,” Commissioner Breton said today.

Concurrent with the announcement that the EU would end the probe, Breton said “Solar power is vital for Europe’s economic security. We are massively investing in the installation of solar panels to decrease our carbon emissions and energy bills – but this should not come at the expense of our energy security, our industrial competitiveness and European jobs.”

“The Foreign Subsidies Regulation is ensuring that foreign companies which participate in the European economy do so by abiding to our rules on fair competition and transparency,” he added.

The EU has been seeking to protect its wind and solar equipment manufacturers from Chinese competition.

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Many EU manufacturers have either closed plants or plan to impose such measures as a flood of solar panels imports, especially from China, and high inventory levels of panels are threatening demand for the more expensive EU-made solar equipment.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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