18 EU member states including the UK have voted against imposing duties on Chinese PV products, according to the STA.
With only four voting in favour, and five abstaining, opinion looks decisively against implementing the European Commission’s plans to levy duties of 47 per cent on average against Chinese solar panels.
Despite strong lobbying from countries including Germany and the UK, the Commission could still go ahead and is expected to announce its decision on 05 June.
With over 80 per cent of UK solar panels sourced from China, the PV sector has reacted strongly to the prospect of rising panel prices following year’s of cost reductions making PV accessible to increasing numbers of people.
Although designed to protect European PV manufacturers by preventing the illegal practice of dumping products below market prices, most installers believe that there would be no net gain in employment in the European solar industry as installation costs are forced to rise.
STA ceo, Paul Barwell, said: “The results of this vote send a strong signal to the European Commission that these duties would do much more damage than good to the European solar industry. If duties are imposed, panel prices will rise across the board, and consumers and installers alike will lose out. It makes no sense to safeguard 8,000 manufacturing jobs by sacrificing up to 200,000 jobs in the wider industry.”
Shaun Taylor, managing director of PV suppliers SolarTech, added: “The proposed levy would deal a severe blow to both our domestic and commercial solar businesses by making it harder and more expensive for potential customers to invest in solar energy. Not only could it lead to significant job losses across the UK solar industry, but it would make it virtually impossible for the UK to meet its climate obligations.”