Friday, July 20, 2012

The solar industry is now officially "mature"

Industrial policy.  Trade Wars.  The whole panoply of issues that come along when a technology becomes valuable enough to protect.

For many years, I advised people not to buy solar panels because quite frankly, most of them were unqualified to take on a high-maintenance piece of technology—especially if it were critical to their lives like a power source would be.  I told them of my "Home Depot" rule—if you can't buy a part for your home from a store like Home Depot, you probably are buying into a maintenance nightmare.  Consider all technology that cannot make this threshold "experimental" with all that implies about reliability.  Recently, Costco started selling PV panels so that hurdle has been breached.

Of course, the main argument against PV panels was cost.  But now we see solar panels as an object of trade wars.  Oh my!  My take is if China is subsidizing their production of PV panels, other governments should match THAT—not attempt to get China to stop.  The whole idea here is make PV panels as cheap as possible so as many folks as possible will want to own them.

Solar industry trade war heats up

DW 20.07.2012

German solar firms are preparing anti-dumping litigation against China in an effort to curb cheap panel imports often backed by state subsidies. The German government is supporting the move.

Germany's second biggest solar firm, Solarword, said Friday that it would seek anti-dumping proceedings with the European Commission in Brussels with the aim of imposing punitive tariffs on cheap solar imports from China.

Highlighting the need for action "as fast as possible", a company spokesman told the dpa news agency that "a number of solar companies" would join the effort, but he didn't disclose the names of firms participating.

"The [German] solar industry is fully competitive, and able to compete against anyone in the world except the central government in China", the spokesman said.

Beijing was putting "huge sums" into export subsidies for solar products, he claimed, enabling Chinese firms to sell them in Europe at prices that undercut even the production costs.

The German government appears to be backing the companies' anti-dumping action. German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier told German public broadcaster ZDF on Thursday that he would "fully support" the companies in the effort.

Solarworld has led industry calls in Western nations for action against Asian cell and module makers and was successful earlier this year when - on the company's initiative - the US Department of Commerce imposed anti-subsidy duties of between 2.9 to 4.7 percent against Chinese solar parts.

The department subsequently made a preliminary ruling in May that would impose anti-dumping duties on average of around 30 percent on Chinese solar panel parts. The final ruling on anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties is expected this October.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government appears determined to retaliate as it announced Friday it would open an investigation into imports of solar-grade polysilicon from the US and South Korea.

The Ministry of Commerce said in two statements posted on its website that anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probes would be launched, which will likely impact US polysilicon maker Hemlock and South Korean firm OCI Corp if punitive measures are imposed.   more


  1. hi.thanks for shedding light on such critical matters. it was really inspiring. will be looking up for more updates on the post.

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