INTERSOLAR: 'Short-term' duty boost

The US decision to slap preliminary duties on Chinese PV panels that use Taiwanese cells will probably offer only a short-term boost for First Solar, says the Arizona thin-film manufacturer's chief commercial officer.

"It's probably potentially going to drive more business our way if some of the traditional customers of Chinese modules now may explore alternatives, and we'll be given an opportunity to try to win that business," Joseph Kishkill told Recharge in an interview at the Intersolar fair in Munich.

"In the short term, it's probably moderately favourable to our business. But in the long term I don't know how it really affects us. It's more of a short-term measure, I suppose."

The US government has set the anti-dumping duty for Chinese modules with Taiwan-made cells at 26.9% for most suppliers, with a lower levy for Trina Solar and a higher duty for Wuxi Suntech – undercutting the significant cost advantage that most Chinese companies currently enjoy.

Trina, unsurprisingly, has slammed the measure as a violation of free trade, while German PV company SolarWorld says the duties now allow it to resume "normal competition" in the American market.

SolarWorld, which has large production facilities in the US, was the main driver behind Washington's decision to impose the duties, which it said were needed to close a loophole that Chinese producers used to circumvent existing anti-dumping tariffs against Chinese modules.

Kishkill was outspoken in the case of another trade dispute – the decision in May by India's commerce ministry to recommend that the Indian government impose anti-dumping duties on foreign PV cells, ranging from $0.48/W for those coming from the US to $0.81/W for those from China.

"We think it was unfair. We are appealing," Kishkill said.

But he added that it first needs to be seen whether New Delhi actually follows the recommendation to impose the tariff, given the recent change of government.

"Obviously, the Indian solar manufacturers are for the duty. But there is a large development sector in India that's against it... We're disappointed in the direction they're going."