Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Solar Importers Defend Chinese ; as E.U. Considers Tariffs, Installation Firms Foresee Huge Cost in Lost Jobs

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Solar Importers Defend Chinese ; as E.U. Considers Tariffs, Installation Firms Foresee Huge Cost in Lost Jobs

Article excerpt

As the European Union considers tariffs, solar panel installation and servicing companies see a huge cost in lost jobs.

Importers of inexpensive solar panels from China said Tuesday that imposing tariffs would lead to hundreds of thousands of job losses in the European Union, the biggest export market for the Chinese equipment.

The claims by the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy, a coalition of companies that install and service panels, were aimed at stopping the European Commission from imposing penalties in the biggest trade case of its kind in terms of value.

The association presented its evidence on Monday at a hearing with the commission, which opened a case in September to see whether the Chinese were selling solar equipment for less than the Chinese market price.

The anti-dumping case covers exports from China worth an estimated EUR 21 billion, or $27 billion, in 2011. The commission will decide by June whether to begin imposing provisional duties in the anti-dumping case. It began a second investigation in November into whether the Chinese government was unfairly subsidizing panel makers.

The cases have bitterly split the solar sector. European manufacturers are adamant that Chinese practices are illegal under international trade rules, and they are pushing the commission to take measures to save an important component of the clean-energy industry. But installation and service companies represented by the alliance say the best way to promote clean power in Europe is to procure commodity products like panels from China and from other low- cost manufacturers.

Thorsten Preugschas, chief executive of Soventix, a German company that builds and operates solar plants worldwide, said at a news conference Tuesday that tariffs of 60 percent would lead to the loss of as many as 242,000 jobs over three years. He said Prognos, a consultancy, had conducted the study.

Underscoring his sector's reliance on Chinese imports, Mr. Preugschas said Soventix bought about 80 percent of panels from Chinese manufacturers last year because prices were as much as 45 percent lower than those bought from some manufacturers in Europe. …

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