Latest opinions of European solar installers on a possible implementation of protective tariffs in the current EU anti‐dumping process against Chinese manufacturers: Installers hope for survival of European solar producers – enterprises hardly expect negative effects from protective tariffs.
Brussels. PV installers in Great Britain declare themselves in favor for the maintenance of the
Europressedienst. 71,4 % of those questioned think that it is "very important" or "important". But
compared to the European average, only 46,4 % are of the opinion that the current EU complaint
against dumping and unwarranted subsidies is justified. In comparison to their European colleagues,
the striking number of 25 % says that they cannot judge the complaint from their current
perspective. The reason for this is mainly found in the still‐nascent solar market and a significant
lower media attention. Last year, 965 MW of photovoltaic capacity has been installed in Great
Britain. Also 42,9% of installers consider possible protective tariffs appropriate, 32,1 % refuses them.
The reactions of British installers turn out correspondingly: Only one third of installers do not expect
any immediate effects on their business. 10,7 % would change their procurement policy and buy less
Chinese modules; 17,9 % would try to reduce the purchase prices of other material. If protective
measures were implemented, 25 % of installers would have to consider the dismissal of employees
and 7,1 % would even fear the shut‐down of their company. 64,3 % see governmental subsidies and a
better access to capital as the main reasons for the price advantage of Chinese producers.
Results of the survey in EU‐27
The installers widely agree to the European Commission's current investigation concerning possible
price dumping and unjustified subsidies of Chinese solar manufacturers. 66% of those questioned
consider the EU procedure as justified. If it will be stated that Chinese manufacturers break
international trade law, 65% of installers think that measures such as protective tariffs and
countervailing duties are adequate. Only 18 % appeal against protective tariffs that would increase
the price of Chinese solar modules.
If the price of Chinese solar panels in Europe rose as a result of the protective measures, it would
have very different effects on the installing companies: 57% stated that it would not have any
immediate effect on their business. 15% of the installers would change their product range and buy
fewer modules from the Middle Kingdom. 7% would pursue another strategy and try to reduce the
purchase price of other components such as inverters and mounting systems. 15 % of installers see
the danger of more dramatic effects: 10% would fear the dismissal of employees, whereas 5% of
those questioned see the danger of having to shut down their company.
The global solar industry is in crisis. Decreasing incentives and significant overcapacities characterize
today's market. As a consequence, prices and margins are free falling. What brings advantages for
customers and the worldwide newly installed capacities, poses significant problems for many credit
financed companies. As a consequence, the market consolidation all along the value chain of silicon,
wafers, cells and installers is in full swing. The market uncertainty is enhanced by the current
investigation of the European Commission, who examines the price policy of Chinese manufacturers
regarding price dumping and unjustified subsidies. As interface between industry, commerce and
customer, installers represent an important link within solar value chain. If on June 5th, the EU
comes to the conclusion that protective tariffs should be imposed on Chinese modules; installers in
the whole of Europe would be affected. Recent studies and prognosis expect that this will lead to
drastic cuts, for installers as well as for the moribund solar industry.
Installers in Europe can buy Chinese solar modules significantly cheaper than those of the European
competitors. That cannot be explained by lower labour costs in China, since worldwide, the share of
labour cost lies only between seven and ten percent. The opinions on reasons for the Chinese price
advantage differ widely. Regarding the reasons for this price advantage, 68 % of those questioned
name governmental subsidies, of which Chinese companies benefit. 65% of the installers think that
Chinese manufacturers have to fulfill less regulatory conditions at the production sites than in
Europeans. 63% presume that Chinese companies have better access to new capital, whereas 60%
believe that lower energy prices are the reason. The questioned installers do not agree that the price
advantage of Chinese producers has its origins in better production facilities or more efficient
research and development. 60% do not see advantages in research and development and 57% do not
considers the Chinese's production facilities as more modern than European ones.
Europressedienst called 2303 photovoltaic installers between March 4th and March 18th in the 27
member states of the European Union; 532 participated in the survey. The number of questioned
companies is proportional to the capacity of the newly installed PV systems in 2012. Most installers
were questioned in the biggest European markets Germany, Italy and France. All in all, the
participating companies installed 1,1 GWp during the last years. 2012, photovoltaic systems with an
overall capacity of 16,5 GWp were installed. Experts estimate that the share of thin‐film systems is
about 8%. The rest, 15,2 GWp, are crystalline module.