After crashing nearly 50% between 2009 and 2014, the price of solar glass is set to rebound beginning in 2015, as a result of anti-dumping duties levied by the European Union on Chinese suppliers.
According to IHS, the average price for glass used in solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing fell from $10.40 per square meter in 2009 to $4.60 by the end of 2014. However, IHS predicts that pricing will begin to stabilise towards a long-term recovery starting 2015 as EU trade sanctions take effect.
“The sharp drop in solar glass prices during the last five years was the result of massive oversupply in the market,” said Karl Melkonyan, solar research analyst at IHS Technology. “Chinese government subsidies on solar glass caused domestic suppliers to increase production and exports. However, the European Union’s move to impose countervailing duties on solar glass imported from China will limit supply in the market, leading to an expected increase in prices.”
As a result, solar glass pricing is expected to increase to $5.90 per square meter by 2018.
Trade Sanctions against China
The Chinese solar PV manufacturing industry has been expecting the impact of trade sanctions for some time now, and it is unlikely they will be caught off guard as we move forward.
Earlier this year it was reported that China had already begun redirecting its efforts towards supplying countries throughout developing regions — such as Africa and the Middle East. The move came after the EU and US both initiated trade investigations which would inevitably lead to sanctions against Chinese supply.
However, the sanctions haven’t really had much of an effect on China’s output, for two reasons:
1) As reported in August, China pushed to supply US developers before the trade investigation concluded. According to NPD Solarbuzz figures, China dominated the Q2’14 module supply market, increasing 26% quarter-over-quarter.
2) China has already redirected its supply away from relying on the big markets in North America and Europe.
These figures are representative an overall picture of China’s solar PV supply, including modules, glass, etc. In response to China’s dominant impact on import markets, the EU imposed five-year tariffs on solar glass from China, countervailing duties on imports ranging between 3 to 17%, depending on the level of subsidy that a solar glass company received from China.
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