EU import duty will damage UK PV industry, warns new report

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Imposing EU tariffs on imported solar panels from China could decimate the UK’s PV industry, according to new report by the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy (AFASE).

The coalition of solar companies estimates solar panels and other components exported from China to the UK are worth more than £18bn. Should any tariff be imposed, we could expect the price of panels to rise and demand to fall as consumers are hit by increased installation costs.

The report claims that should a 60 percent duty be imposed, the UK’s solar industry, which sources the vast majority of its panels from China, would contract by 80 percent costing the economy £3.46bn and 38,600 jobs over a three year period. Across Europe, those figures would rise to £27bn and 242,000 jobs.

The European Commission is currently investigating claims made by European PV manufacturers that Chinese panels coming into Europe were being sold below market value or ‘dumped’. Should the proceedings find sufficient evidence, anti-dumping measures could become a reality here as has already happened in the USA.

The report adds that although tariffs could give an economic boost to European manufacturers, as they are designed to do, any extra jobs or revenue would be dwarfed by reductions in installation rates as European installer’s access to cheaper Chinese panels is suddenly halted.

Gabriel Wondrausch, managing director of SunGift Solar, told the Guardian: “Any tariffs that force a price increase means our customers will not get the rate of return they require to make solar PV an attractive investment: if solar products become unaffordable the UK industry will suffer, jobs will be lost, and PV installation companies will undoubtedly fold.”