SEIA warns US Tariffs may damage solar industry
By Roy L Hales
Wuxi Suntech recently announced that its’ modules are now the “third brand globally” to receive VDE Quality-Tested certification. This is believed to be the strictest testing criteria in the industry. While most standards will allow a power loss of 8% over the test sequence, VDE will not allow more than 5%. Suntech’s VDE accreditation shows the importance Chinese solar and what the US is risking by imposing tariffs.
Approximately 69% of China’s energy comes from coal. It is the principal cause of airpocalypse, which is suffocating many Chinese cities in perma-smog. China’s dependence on coal is one of the largest causes of rising greenhouse gases.
Yet, with coal prices rising and solar getting less expensive, there are signs that the Chinese may be adopting more renewable energy.
Suntech’s CEO, Eric Luo, predicts that China’s solar industry will reach grid parity by 2016 or 2017 and soon be installing 25 Gigawatts of solar capacity a year.
At that time Wilfried Jaeger, Managing Director of the VDE Institute, said, “VDE has developed the new testing program for this highly valuable seal of quality in close cooperation with the solar industry, solar project investors, and our international network of partner laboratories. With this finely tuned and optimized product, we are able to precisely meet the needs for product testing and quality control, while avoiding unnecessary excess testing parameters and costs.”
The day before being the US slapped Suntech with a 35.21% tariff, the company was given “best in class” by VDE’s Energy and Smart Technologies Division.
“This recognition further validates our commitment to provide customers with solar panels of the highest quality and reliability in design and mass production,” said said Suntech CEO Eric Luo.
Then United States slapped duties of between 18.56% and 35.21% on imported Chinese solar modules.
Luo claims the tariff on Suntech, which received the largest amount, is “completely unfair” because his company is not receiving subsidies from the Chinese government.
Rhone Resch, President and CEO of SEIA, warns these tariffs “will increase costs for U.S. solar consumers and, in turn, slow the adoption of solar within the United States.”
“We are disappointed to see the DOC’s preliminary Decision and believe that this will have a negative impact on the solar industry and will ultimately end up hurting US customers and USsolar jobs the most,” commented Mr. Xiande Li, Chairman of JinkoSolar. “Ill-conceived trade barriers such as these only aid in reducing the competitiveness of solar energy against other forms of power generation. JinkoSolar has fully cooperated with the relevant authorities throughout the investigation and will continue to do so in the hope that international trade and fair competition will eventually prevail.”
“It’s time to get serious about resolving this ongoing dispute, before irreparable damage is done to the U.S. solar industry,” Resch said. “We’re strongly urging all parties to set aside their grievances; redouble efforts to find a solution that benefits all segments of the industry; and end this potentially costly and divisive conflict.”
(Image at top of page: Headquarters of Wuxi Suntech Power Co Ltd. – PRNewsFoto/Wuxi Suntech)