Solar industry urges EU to avoid tariffs on PV products

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European solar panel makers have urged governments in Berlin and Brussels not to add new tariffs to imports of Chinese PV equipment

A trade body representing Europe's solar power sector has urged governments not to impose new tariffs on the import of photovoltaic (PV) products from China, warning it would be counterproductive for the sector.

The statement from the board of SolarPower Europe comes shortly after Reuters reported that the German government is considering a range of options, including subsidies and trade laws protection, to safeguard its domestic industry from a global fall in prices.

At the same time, lawmakers in Brussels have also been mulling further trade restrictions on Chinese goods, with solar technology and electric vehicles among the key areas under examination.

SolarPower Europe noted that at present, the sector is facing a "perfect storm" of market dynamics that has led to overcapacity on the supply side and overordering on the demand side in the last few years. This has contributed to a significant drop in prices for solar modules and other PV equipment.

However, Reuters noted that despite manufacturers complaining of a "flood" of cheap Chinese solar modules into the European market adding further pressure to this by undercutting domestic suppliers, SolarPower Europe has warned that restricting supplies from Asia is not the answer.

It explained that such moves could lead to a repeat of the 2013-2018 period, when Europe's solar energy installations dipped following the imposition of EU quotas on tariff-free imports of Chinese solar panels and cells.

Aristotelis Chantavas, president of SolarPower Europe, said: “We need diverse, sustainable and resilient solar supply chains. Trade barriers are not the way to do that."

He added that the EU should be looking instead at an industrial strategy to support its own solar sector similar to the US' Inflation Reduction Act, and there are a number of "balanced, effective measures" ready to be implemented.

These include adjusting the EU State Aid framework to allow Member States to support running costs of factories and an EU-level financing instrument dedicated to European produced solar PV.

"Trade barriers are not the solution," the statement continued. "As history has shown, investigating and implementing trade barriers on solar is the ultimate lose-lose strategy for Europe."