The current discussion on protecting European PV markets by imposing countervailing duties on Chinese solar modules and cells is splitting the industry
At the start of November, the European Commission announced the opening of a process to examine the legality of subsidies paid in China. It is possible that anti-dumping duties may be placed on solar cells imported from China and the modules manufactured from them.
The EU is examining the introduction of countervailing duties on Chinese modules in reaction to a claim filed by European manufactures. In addition to gauging the solar industry business climate, the fourth edition of the European PV InstallerMonitor 2012/2013 analyzes background information on the four most important European core markets. The study also looks at manufacturer brand awareness as well as installer procurement practices in Germany, Italy, Great Britain and France.
This step is a reaction from the commission to a case filed by the industry collaboration EU ProSun, an initiative made up of more than 20 European solar manufacturers. The commission is now checking if Chinese manufacturers really received unfair state subsidies. Within nine months, the commission could then introduce protectionist measures similar to countervailing duties seen in the USA.
The EU is effectively split on anti-dumping duties at present in that only 44 % of European installers are in favor of them. Yet it is not only manufacturers that are divided on the topic, a lack of unanimity can also be noted among installers. This can be seen in the results of a survey currently being carried out by the Bonn-based market researcher EuPD Research in the four most important European solar markets, namely Germany, Italy, Great Britain and France. The European PV InstallerMonitor series is considered an unrivalled reflection of the business climate among specialist PV installers.
Of the 875 installers surveyed, more than 80% were aware of the case filed by European manufacturers and the subsequent process to examine subsidies launched by the commission. 44% of installers said that, from their business perspective, they are in favor of countervailing duties being imposed on Chinese PV modules. Yet an almost equally large proportion of 42% are not in favor of such intervention. The qualitative open statements which were compiled anonymously are also of interest.
“While those who favor countervailing duties argue in moral and normative terms, the majority of opponents cite economic reasons in their arguments” said Markus Lohr, EuPD Research Senior Analyst.
Proponents of countervailing duties state their case with social working conditions and the adherence to a minimum wage. One respondent summarized his main argument against the duties as follows: “It increases total systems prices and reduces profitability for customers which means I simply sell less systems”.
In addition to compiling information on the current business climate among installers, the study also delivers a thorough analysis of all four European core markets, an evaluation of installer purchasing behavior as well as an examination of individual market penetration. This data assists manufacturers in adjusting their market strategies in line with the market and in conducting a fact-based review of their strategic business expansion. In addition, the sections on manufacturer brand awareness and a comparison of brand satisfaction provide sufficient indicators based on which a closer look at company positioning in each country can be taken.
The EuPD Research study European PV InstallerMonitor is available from December. In addition to the comprehensive version complete with all four countries, each individual country report is also available separately. Moreover, the results can be illustrated in an on-site presentation and a customized evaluation carried out in accordance with individual customer wishes.