As the Chinese solar power industry considers filing a retaliatory trade case against the U.S., IDC research manager in renewable energy Jay Holman said American companies’ actions against China were likely to succeed.
But he warned that such a result would raise module prices and make it harder for developers to get projects done.
“This is also coming at time when people are concerned about other incentives that are going away. The treasury grant program is slated to expire at the end of this year, and we’ve just seen the expiration of federal loan guarantee program,” Holman said.
“When you look at the cumulative effect of these actions, it puts the robust growth we saw this year at risk,” he added.
Holman said the downturn is likely to affect commercial as well as utility-scale installations.
The U.S. Commerce Department opened its trade case against Chinese manufacturers earlier this month, acting on a filing by six American solar companies and the U.S. branch of German manufacturer SolarWorld. The companies argued that China is dumping panels here for less than their total manufacturing and shipping cost, and said Chinese firms are using billions of dollars’ worth of subsidies to unfairly bolster its position in the American market.
The department is considering tariffs of 50 to 250 percent on Chinese solar panels, the New York Times reports.
On Monday, the Chinese solar industry revealed plans to target American exports of polysilicon, a key ingredient in solar panels. U.S. manufacturers exported about $873 million of polysilicon to China in 2010 – a value almost as much as that of solar panels shipped from China to the U.S.
Industry executives have also said that Chinese solar manufacturers plan to shift some production to the U.S., South Korea and Taiwan.
Retaliatory action against polysilicon makers would further add to costs, Holman said. A drastic drop in polysilicon prices has been one of the drivers in the industry’s recent price reductions.
Meanwhile, Chinese solar companies including Suntech and JA Solar Holdings posted bigger than expected quarterly losses and forecast a bleak outlook, Reuters reports.
Picture credit: SolarWorld