- Language Tips
In the face of rising trade frictions from the US and the EU, Chinese solar energy companies should explore new markets, especially the domestic market, said industry insiders at a conference in Beijing Friday.
The US Commerce Department announced on March 20 it would impose anti-subsidy duties on photovoltaic solar panels from China, ranging from 2.9 percent to 4.73 percent.
Shi Dinghuan, president of the China Renewable Energy Society, said China opposed to the duties from the very beginning of the investigation, and the US' move is unfair and is against the tide at a time when the world is fighting climate change.
Shi said that as most of the equipment and raw materials in China's solar energy industry are imported from the US, levy of duties will not only harm Chinese manufacturers, but also US suppliers.
Dave Renne, president of International Solar Energy Society (ISES) said the duties were better than previously concerned, as the US government is listening to the urge of the industry, and the outcome was out of political choice.
Removal of trade barriers is crucial to the development of the industry, said Renne. However, he warned of the results of the US' anti-countervailing duties to be released in May.
Most players in the industry don't want to see trade tensions between China and US, as there is much collaboration between the two countries in this industry, said Monica Oliphant, former president of the ISES.
Impact of the duties this time would be relatively low, as the US doesn't want to upset the Chinese industry, she said. Oliphant explained that it is just to satisfy some industry players who want to protect themselves.
What she is concerned that if duties go up, there would be a flood of cheaper and affordable systems in the market instead of good and efficient but expensive ones, and that would harm the industry as a whole.
China produces 50 percent of the photovoltaic products in the Asia-Pacific region, with 95 percent of its overall output exported outside of the country, according Oliphant.
Therefore, she suggests Chinese solar firms pay more attention to the domestic market as well as the Asia-Pacific region, where there would be less protectionism and smaller duties.
Li Yuanpu, director of the Geothermal Heat Pump Committee at China Renewable Energy Society (CRES), agrees with this idea.
He said his organization is helping solar companies with legal assistance, as well as exploring possible markets in ASEAN countries, Australia, and Africa.
As the PV is not grid-friendly to China's centralized grid system, the CRES is studying the decentralized grid system of Germany, which enables solar module installers to be the direct end users of the power generated.
Shi of the CRES refuted the view that there is an overcapacity in the industry, stressing that the installed capacity of China's solar energy is less than 10 million kW, and is far away from replacing fossil fuels.
He added that a clarified government's policy for the solar electricity price is the key for solar firms to explore the domestic market.