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Solar Panel Trade War Heats Up 232

Hugh Pickens writes "Reuters reports that Chinese solar companies could soon find themselves bereft of some of their biggest foreign markets as Western manufacturers intensify a solar trade war and seek stiff anti-dumping duties on low-cost Chinese products. German group SolarWorld says it is working on steps to curb alleged price dumping by Chinese rivals in Europe as a group of seven U.S. solar companies urges the U.S. government to slap anti-dumping duties on Chinese-made solar energy products. Western solar companies have been at odds with their Chinese counterparts for years, alleging they receive lavish credit lines to offer modules at cheaper prices. 'American solar operations should be rapidly expanding to keep pace with the skyrocketing demand for these products,' says Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon whose office authored a whitepaper called 'China's Grab for Green Jobs.' (PDF) 'But that is not what has been happening. There seems to be one primary explanation for this; that is, that China is cheating.'"
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Solar Panel Trade War Heats Up

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24, 2011 @09:12AM (#37815960)

    The Chinese government hands cash to their panel manufacturers

    Right. Let me stop you there because you have no idea what you are talking about. The majority of funding in China is through the CDB loan financing. Now explain please, how Chinese CDB loan guarantees any different than US DOE guarantees (e.g. Solandra, First Solar, SunPower) except the magnitude? They aren't different. Not to mention that about 90% of CDB loan guarantees have not been used yet because they are explicitly for projects financing (e.g capital for PV parks), an area where Chinese PV firms are still way behind their western counterparts.

    Chinese firms have primarily expanded using private money based on share offerings in the U.S. markets, secondary offerings, and bond offerings and the US and Chinese markets. The Chinese have spent billions in private financing over the past 4-6 yr. increasing output, The newest Chinese facilities are driving down prices

    Chinese got into PV with newer and cheaper (American and German) equipment and they have more recent land & tax deals with local governments (e.g. Evergreen solar, First Solar) . That's it. U.S. firms are crying because a third of Chinese capacity of c-Si PV can run a profit at an unsubsidized price of 1.00 $/pW. There are plenty of Chinese whining too. Guess what is happening to the whiners? They are done. Some are dumping inventory on their way out the door, depressing prices slightly more in the short run. Out-competed. Destructive capitalism. Much like the entire fraudulent U.S economy.

      This ridiculous argument about quality is always the losers last appeal. Chinese Tier 1 produces can match any western mfging quality. Highest quality poly panels are sourced entirely from Chinese/Taiwanese owned Taiwanese polysilicon and mainland Chinese wafer, cell, and module production. Two prominent firms I can think of have recently stepped up to the plate with 20 & 25 yr power output warranties. Several of the Tier 2 produces can probably boast ever high quality, they just lack the reputation. . yet. Why don't you explain how their quality will be inferior after recruiting the most experienced engineers, buying the newest equipment, and contracting with the best western process and construction companies. What's left inferior nature of the Chinese people/culture?

      The US has lost solar and Germany is too small to keep up. Fair and square in an utterly ruthless and brutal capitalistic process. The Chinese will feel the pain too, many of them are finished and a very stressful period of consolidation and bankruptcy will soon begin. Things will stabilize and cSi PV will become a globally traded every conversion commodity that is cheaper than everything except 160MW ICC gas turbines at 2009 natural gas prices. It's already done. Let's just hope CDB doesn't just spend a few billion and buy global PV capacity for the Chinese government. I would if I were them.

  • by will_die ( 586523 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @10:04AM (#37816786) Homepage
    To correct you, Germany healcare is 10.7%, UK is 8%, Switzerland is 11.6% and those numbers are from the various governments for what they spent in 2008.
    Health care and insurance costs add around 21%. Of that around 85% is given to managing the complex private health insurance by private companies. So private insurance companies get 85% of 21% not 30% as you made up.
  • by robberbarron ( 171029 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @11:11AM (#37818236)

    It's really not just the labor. It's a combination of a lot of things where Chinese companies have an advantage.

    * Low interest loans
    * Direct Subsidies
    * Limiting exports (and high export duties) of raw materials, giving an advantage to anyone (local or MNC) who locates a factory in China rather than elsewhere
    * Lax IP law enforcement - enabling companies to keep their R&D budget low - copying is cheap
    * Free land and infrastructure
    * Minimal enforcement of environmental regulations
    * Minimal enforcement of labor regulations (safety, etc..)

    Now, the question really is: what is the policy response when you have a competitor who is doing this? Is WTO sanctions the right policy course? I wish I knew. But this is where the US legislators are failing their constituents. They really don't seem to be doing anything except complain at each other.

"My sense of purpose is gone! I have no idea who I AM!" "Oh, my God... You've.. You've turned him into a DEMOCRAT!" -- Doonesbury