Solar industry discusses the introduction of protective tariffs on chinese solar modules in europe

In light of the European Commission’s decision on June 4 to introduce provisional protective tariffs on solar modules, cells and wafers imported from China, the panel discussion between high-caliber figures held for the first time at Intersolar Europe’s General Session (inaugural event) on June 19 focused on this topical issue. The controversial topics of the much disputed decision and its far-reaching consequences were discussed by representatives from industry, research and associations.rnrnArguing in favor of the protective tariffs were Milan Nitzschke, President of EU ProSun, Belgium, and Jerry Stokes, Chief Executive Officer of ITS INNOTECH SOLAR AS, Norway. Milan Nitzschke criticized the way in which the Chinese government is highly subsidizing its country’s solar industry, making it possible for Chinese companies to sell their products below production costs. A product is deemed to be sold “below value” if its export price is significantly lower than the price at which it is sold domestically. The intense price war has already forced a significant number of European solar companies to file for insolvency. Nitzschke believes it is unlikely that the protective tariffs will have a negative effect on the growth of the solar industry in Europe, adding that the introduction of such duties in the USA has resulted in the American market continuing to grow and system prices falling. Jerry Stokes, Chief Executive Officer of the Norwegian cell and module manufacturer ITS INNOTECH SOLAR AS, which manufactures most of its products in Europe, also spoke in support of fair and sustainable competition and declared himself against protectionism in China.rnrnOn the other hand, Dr. Florian Wessendorf, Managing Director of Photovoltaic Equipment at the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), Frankfurt am Main, and Peter J. Desmet, a board member of the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy (AFASE), Belgium, do not support the introduction of protective tariffs. Dr. Florian Wessendorf stated that they have led to great levels of uncertainty within the solar industry, causing investors to hesitate and endangering growth in the sector. Peter J. Desmet was of a similar opinion. The board member of AFASE advocated open access to the market without protective tariffs. He believes that above all falling module prices provide an opportunity for the downstream solar industry in Europe to develop specialisms with new business models, stating that the particular strength of the solar sector is the fact that the individual components of its value-added chain are well linked internationally.rnrnDr. Dörte Fouquet, a lawyer working at Becker Büttner Held, Belgium, who has been working in her specialist area of energy law for many years, spoke in favor of a solution being found at the negotiating table. The anti-dumping duties currently amount to 11.8%. This relatively low amount is intended to be valid for two months before automatically rising to 47.6% for a duration of four months. The panel explained that the European Commission aims to use the moderate initial rate of the duty’s two-stage introduction period to take the oppositions of all those affected into account and create the opportunity to rapidly open negotiations. However, it is ultimately the Council of the European Union that makes the final decision concerning the protective tariffs, and if ruled in favor of, they would apply for a period of five years. According to Dr. Dörte Fouquet, in order to prevent this, the EU member states who have their own solar industries must begin negotiations with China immediately.rnrnThe views of Intersolar Europe 2013’s exhibitors on the protective tariffs are also anything but unanimous and this issue has formed a central topic of conversation at the exhibition. The coming month will reveal whether those affected are able to resolve the conflict quickly.rn

Egreen was exhibitor at Intersolar Europe 2013: The industry turns out in force

Over the past three days, some 50,000 visitors from more than 150 countries flocked to Intersolar Europe at Messe München. A total of 1,330 exhibitors from 47 different nations presented their technologies and services in the fields of photovoltaics, PV production technologies, energy storage systems and solar thermal technologies in 12 exhibition halls and an outdoor exhibition area, which together span 121,000 square meters of exhibition space. This year, 53% of Intersolar Europe’s exhibitors came from abroad. With 608 exhibitors present, Germany was the best represented country, followed by China with 242, Italy with 59, Austria with 40 and Spain with 29 companies. In terms of visitors, 44% made the journey to Munich from outside Germany, beating last year’s figure. The international nature of the exhibition was further increased by high-caliber delegations from around the world and numerous country pavilions, including those representing Morocco and Egypt, the latter of which presented itself in this way at Intersolar Europe for the first time.rn

How to ensure energy transition’s success – a political panel discussion

The election year of 2013 is seeing German energy policy undergo significant changes in direction. Hans-Josef Fell, Energy Policy Speaker of the Parliamentary Group Alliance 90/The Greens, and Horst Meierhofer, a long-standing expert on energy and the environment for Germany’s Free Democratic Party (FDP), discussed the current challenges faced by the energy transition at the Innovation Exchange on Thursday, June 20. The discussion, entitled Energy Policy Forum: Solar Energy and the Energy Transition - Current Situation and Prospects in the Election Year of 2013, was chaired by Carsten Körnig, CEO of the German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar), Berlin. The fact that the forum was so well attended reflected the widespread interest in political positions.rnrnThe future structure of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) formed the central element of the discussion on the topic of photovoltaics. The imposing of limits on electricity prices and developments in the area of energy storage systems were also explored. The experts agreed on the necessity of continuing to expand renewable energy and also unanimously welcomed incentives for energy storage systems. They were also in favor of reliable conditions for investing in renewable energy sources and felt that provisions to protect existing plants should remain in place. However, the panel shared different opinions on the speed and financing of the future expansion of photovoltaics in Germany.rnrnHans-Josef Fell called for the solar industry to cooperate more closely and speak with one united voice, stating that debates, such as the current argument surrounding protective tariffs on Chinese solar modules, are causing the industry to damage itself from within. At the same time, he stressed the need to work towards further encouraging on-site consumption and generators of photovoltaic energy to market their own solar power. Horst Meierhofer, on the other hand, claimed that the industry itself must actively work to increase the acceptance of the energy transition among German citizens, believing that rising electricity prices would result in the financing of the energy transition being called into question. Accordingly, he felt that the development of new means of providing financing are essential, adding that a uniform European financing model could offer an appropriate solution.rnrnIn terms of the role of solar thermal technologies in the success of the energy transition, the discussion’s participants all agreed that solar heating and cooling must be taken into account when implementing future statutory provisions.rnrnVisitors’ immense interest in the lively panel discussion emphasized the fact that Intersolar Europe provides an ideal platform for political discussions on renewable energy.

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