Chinese-owned components are accused of dumping at low prices in Europe!


Last week, a group of local European module manufacturers and start-ups published an open letter through the European Solar Manufacturing Council (ESMC), urging the EU to take action to protect the European photovoltaic manufacturing industry, which is threatened by "unsustainable low-priced PV modules" from Chinese module manufacturers.

The signatories said in the letter that PV module prices have fallen by more than 35 percent to 0.15 euros ($0.16) per watt. However, these companies have "limited opportunities to sell their products under these circumstances."

While European solar companies applaud the EU's commitment to fostering a European solar PV manufacturing supply chain, measures and initiatives launched by the EU are at risk due to "price volatility among Chinese PV manufacturers." A large number of Chinese PV modules are stored in European ports, mainly in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, covering twice the annual demand for the whole of Europe.

Imports from China have continued to grow since the beginning of 2023 and are expected to reach 40GWdc, equivalent to the entire installed capacity of Europe in 2022. However, imports from China are still increasing and are expected to hit a record 120GW, surpassing the expected installed capacity of more than 60GW in 2023.

Meyer Burger is one of the signatories of the letter

The letter also alleges that Chinese solar companies have adopted a "dumping approach" in the European market, offering European customers a series of two-year contracts at 0.15 euros per watt. However, according to the declared data, the production cost of the Chinese company is estimated to be about 0.2 euros per watt.

The offers are conditional on orders of at least 2MW per year and come with an exclusivity provision.

As a result, European photovoltaic module production plunged from 9GW in 2022 to about 1GW in 2023. In addition, European solar PV module manufacturers currently have more than 500MW of manufactured module inventory because they are unable to sell their products at a price that will recover their production costs.

In response, European Solar companies asked the European Commission and EU member states to take action, including the immediate exclusion of solar panels produced using forced labor from the European market.

It alleges that a large number of unethically produced photovoltaic modules were originally destined for the U.S. market, but forced labor laws prevented these modules from entering the U.S. market. They are now being dumped into Europe, which lacks processes to stop components produced by forced labor.

European solar companies are also demanding rapid emergency purchases of European PV manufacturers' PV module inventories in response to forced price cuts caused by Chinese solar companies.

"These photovoltaic modules could, for example, be procured by improving the bidding process within the framework of the temporary crisis and transition or by developing the framework of the Ukraine Assistance and Reconstruction Fund," the statement said.

Finally, European solar companies also call for European PV installers and project developers to be encouraged to include a minimum share of European capacity in the entire PV value chain of European PV deployments, as this can ensure a stable market for European manufacturers in the medium term.

The inclusion of non-financial criteria in PV tenders should also serve as a reward for the environmental and social benefits of European PV modules, a key tool to level the playing field with Chinese modules, the letter said.

ESMC added that if nothing is done, European solar PV manufacturers will be faced with two options, including continuing to shut down production and face bankruptcy, or seeking refuge in regions such as the United States that support their PV industry.

Last week, for example, NorSun, a Norwegian maker of solar ingots, announced that it would temporarily halt production and lay off workers at its European plants, and the company's management decided to reroute manufacturing to the United States. To that end, NorSun signed an agreement with Canadian Solar manufacturer Silfab Solar to expand its silicon ingot and wafer production plant in the United States.

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