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Will Europe Follow the US with High Tariffs on Chinese Solar Panels?

Following the success of their American campaign against Chinese solar panel manufacturers, which has seen the introduction of tariffs of as much as 35% being levied against imported products, SolarWorld is now leading a group of more than 20 European solar manufacturers in a similar action. On Wednesday they made an official trade complaint in Brussels.

Europe is a far larger solar market than the US, with 74% of new global solar capacity in 2011 being installed in Europe. The huge growth that the sector has seen was benefitting European companies, but recently those same companies have been filing for insolvency due to their inability to remain competitive with Chinese competitors. Chinese manufacturers now dominate the EU market.

SolarWorld has made a name for itself as the company that is determined to push back the advance of cheap Chinese solar products, and formed EU ProSun to take up the reigns in Europe. Milan Nitschke, president of EU ProSun and vice president of SolarWorld, said that “Chinese companies have captured over 80 percent 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.”

The EU solar industry is likely to be as divided over this issue as it was in the US. After SolarWorld filed its complaint in the US a group of American and Chinese manufacturers launched the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), arguing that the cheap Chinese panels were helping the industry to achieve its installation targets. As many EU nations are striving to achieve their ambitious renewable energy targets such opposition should be expected as well; due to the boost that cheap PV panels could provide towards these goals.

By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com



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