Last month, a Department of Commerce preliminary finding found Chinese solar module firms liable for anti-dumping (AD) duties in response to a complaint led by the U.S. unit of Germany's SolarWorld. Most major Chinese PV vendors (and American importers of Chinese solar panels) face a potential retroactive 31 percent penalty.
How this plays out and the impact on the American solar market is an experiment we are currently conducting. "American" manufacturing firms like SolarWorld will likely be bolstered, but increased module prices could inhibit market growth and downstream employment in the installer, construction, and developer trades.
This experiment might soon be taking place in the European Union, as well. According to an article in Bloomberg, SolarWorld anticipates an anti-dumping case against Chinese competitors in Europe this month. The case might be initiated by the European Commission rather than by SolarWorld.
The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) issued a statement regarding the U.S. decision which would indicate that the organization is not going to take sides in the dispute. The group said, "At a time when the global solar industry is weathering a period of economic uncertainty and consolidation, it will be crucial for all players in this conflict to find common ground and allow our technology to accelerate the momentum that has made it already a mainstream energy source."
"However, there are usually no ultimate winners in a trade war. In a globalized world, trade actions can have many consequences across borders and along value chains."
A number of German solar companies have filed for insolvency in the last six months due to price pressure from Chinese module makers, as well as a sunsetting subsidy regime.
An article in Recharge News has Frank Asbeck, CEO of SolarWorld (pictured), saying he is "confident" that legal action will be initiated from the German government or the European Commission this month.
Germany looks like it will be entering the same experiment being conducted in the U.S., albeit with an even larger downstream solar work force in potential jeopardy and a larger fleet of insolvent solar companies desperate for Chinese investment and acquisition.