In the mid-2000s, the European solar manufacturing sector — particularly German companies boosted by the country’s generous feed-in tariff — dominated the global market, but within a few years it had collapsed, unable to compete with a new wave of Chinese suppliers helped by cheap state finance, low labour costs, economies of scale and, at times, dumping practices.

A late reaction by the EU through the controversial imposition of anti-dumping tariffs against Chinese equipment briefly slowed the European sector’s demise, but former PV giants such as Solar World, Conergy and Q-Cells went bankrupt or were snapped up by Asian competitors.