UK body flags China PV 'rumours'

The UK’s Solar Trade Association (STA) has warned of “rumours” that Chinese-origin PV modules are being exported into the EU under false designations of origin.

Chinese module makers are allowed to export 7GW each year into the EU, under the terms of the deal thrashed out in late 2013 between the EU Trade Commission and China’s major PV manufacturers. They are also subject to a price floor currently set at €0.56 ($0.78)/W.

All Chinese producers that have not signed onto the agreement are subject to punitive tariffs, effectively rendering their modules uncompetitive.

The STA, a key lobbying group in the booming UK solar market, did not go so far as to pinpoint any instances of wrongdoing.

However, it warns that “in recent weeks [it] has been made aware of rumours of attempts to evade the imposition of solar duties by masking the origin of the modules or cells”.

The STA – most of whose members benefit from cheaper modules – did not say whether the rumours implicate Chinese exporters or European importers in the wrongdoing.

The STA notes that modules coming from Malaysia or Korea but using cells from China, or those coming from China but “transshipped” via third countries, must make those facts clear upon their entry into the EU.

The STA flagged up recent reports that Dutch customs authorities in Rotterdam have detained module shipments that may have come from China without declaring it.

Speaking recently to Recharge, the chief executive of one major Chinese module supplier acknowledged that producers in other low-cost countries – including India – are selling below the €0.56/W price floor, as they are legally allowed to do at present.

However, he said that the volumes at which they are selling are too low to have an impact on the market.