EU Commissioner De Gucht has announced that the antidumping case on Chinese solar panels has been settled.
Chinese makers will have to sell solar panels at a minimum price, and there will be a ceiling on exports to the EU from China. The official release doesn’t tell us any details, but there are multiple press reports putting the minimum price at 56 Cents Euro per watt, which would translate to 560 Euro per kW of capacity. See for example this article at SPIEGEL (in German).
From the same article, we learn that the ceiling is supposed to be 7 GW a year.
The Financial Times (free subscription required) also tells us that the agreement is supposed to last until the end of 2015, and that 90 Chinese manufacturers have signed up.
I have a couple of comments.
The 7 GW ceiling would be only about 40 percent of the 2012 European market of 17.2 GW in 2012 reported by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association. However, in the same report, the EPIA says that the market will go down to below 10 GW from 2013 on for a couple of years (page 25) under a business as usual scenario. That would leave up to 70 percent of the market for a 7 GW ceiling.
Meanwhile, China has announced to aim for 10 GW of new solar PV capacity a year over the next three years. As the European market slows down somewhat, the Chinese domestic market (and the Japanese market as well) will expand.
As I said earlier when discussing this antidumping case, as far as this has any influence on the market at all, it will lead to less solar capacity installed in the EU. That in turn leaves more solar panels to be installed somewhere else, bringing prices on all other markets down. That in turn will accelerate deployment in China and India even more, where it matters most for displacing coal.
And while this is somewhat bad news for consumers installing new capacity in the European Union, a price of EUR 560 per kW is actually already rather cheap.
Maybe Commissioner De Gucht can inform his colleague Energy Commissioner Oettinger of these prices, which are supposed to be higher than what would be expected without these protectionist measures requiring the Chinese to run a price cartel. Maybe then the EU Commission can stop using its ridiculously inflated cost estimates for solar PV capacity when discussing energy policy.
The German think tank DIW recently called out the EU Commission on its practice to use old data on the costs of solar. It confirms that the costs of solar PV are now under EUR 1,000 per kW for large installations.
In contrast, the EU Commission has as recently as 2011 estimated costs for PV much higher. Their numbers were EUR 4023 per kW in 2011, decreasing to 2678 in 2020, to 1710 in 2030, and to 1366 in 2050.
Again, maybe they should ask Commissioner De Gucht for some input next time. We are already clearly below what the EU Commission projected for 2050.
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