SolarWorld-led tariffs on Chinese solar panels have seemingly coaxed further retaliatory trade measures from the Chinese government.
The solar trade war, almost a year old now, has ushered in tariffs on Chinese solar panels sold in the U.S. A tariff might be imposed in the European Union as well. The tariffs are hitting small U.S. solar producers as we've reported here and here -- with a dubious impact on Chinese PV panel prices in the U.S.
But the serious blowback from the SolarWorld-led tariffs is coming from Chinese ministries.
We reported on China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) inquiry into anti-dumping and anti-subsidy claims on U.S. imported polysilicon. That could hit firms in the U.S., such as Hemlock, MEMC, OCI, and REC.
Today's trade salvo, reported by Platts, has China's Ministry of Commerce claiming that six renewable-energy projects across five U.S. states are "illegally subsidized and violate World Trade Organization rules."
The announcement on the Ministry's website claimed that state support of these projects is "distorting normal international trade" under the WTO's General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and urges the U.S. to eliminate the aid for these projects.
At this time, it's just a complaint, not yet in arbitration.
The China Ministry of Commerce has singled out U.S. funds to encourage renewable fuel production, wind projects in Ohio, New Jersey's state energy program, Massachusetts' energy rebates, and California's SGIP program.
The U.S. Department of Commerce has also made a preliminary determination in the anti-dumping investigations of imports of utility-scale wind towers from China and Vietnam. Commerce preliminarily determined that Chinese and Vietnamese producers/exporters sold utility-scale wind towers in the United States at dumping margins of 20.85 percent to 72.69 percent and 52.67 percent to 59.91 percent, respectively.
Additionally, the European Union has asked for WTO arbitration over China's export caps on rare-earth metals, which are used in wind turbines and other renewable energy applications.
There doesn't seem to be a clear victor in this war, if such a thing is even possible in an escalating trade dispute.
SolarWorld's recent earnings report points to the possibility that the firm might not survive to witness the full results of its actions.