Now that the EU’s trade measures on solar panels from China have expired, Brussels-based industry association SolarPower Europe expects a major solar deployment surge across the bloc, based on a 2017 study from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers (DG JUST).
Following the European Commission’s decision not to extend the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures on solar panels from China, the duties expired at midnight on September 3. The move, which followed the US protectionist tariffs on solar panels from both the EU and China, has been protested by a number of European manufacturers, but at the same time welcomed by SolarPower Europe.
“After considering the needs of both producers and those using or importing solar panels the Commission decided it was in the best interests of the EU as a whole to let the measures lapse. This decision also takes into account the EU’s new renewable energy targets,” the EU executive said in a press release.
The Clean Energy for All Europeans package sets a binding renewable energy target for the EU for 2030 of 32%.
The EU first imposed definitive anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures in December 2013 for a period of two years. These were then renewed in March 2017 for a period of 18 months.
Uptake of rooftop solar, job creation expected
In a letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, asking for trade measures on cells and modules from China, Taiwan, and Malaysia to end by September 3 at the latest, SolarPower Europe recalled that a 2017 study from DG JUST recommended removing the trade measures, as this would result in an increase in the uptake of rooftop solar in most of the EU member states by some 20-30%, in comparison to their baseline scenario.
“From Poland to Portugal, France to Finland, we would see a major solar deployment surge. This is fully in the interest of the European Union’s energy transition, and in line with the desire to have the consumer at the heart of the Energy Union,” SolarPower Europe said. It further noted that the 2017 EY study on Solar Jobs & Value added in Europe found that removing the trade measures would have a hugely positive impact on European employment.
The report found that lifting the trade measures could result in the creation of more than 40,000 new jobs by 2019. “We believe that this is a significant number considering that today Europe is employing just over 80,000 people in the solar sector,” SolarPower Europe said, adding that driving job creation in this clean energy sector would help replace the jobs that are “inevitably declining in traditional energy sectors.”
In a press release, James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe said that the trade measures had made solar much more expensive than necessary in Europe, noting that by removing the duties, “solar will now be cheapest form of electricity in many EU countries.” The removal of the measures will also help EU manufacturers along the solar value chain through increased demand for their products, according to Watson.
According to SolarPower Europe’s earlier Global Market Outlook for Solar Power 2018-2022 report, 2017 was another outstanding year for the solar sector and growth will continue for the coming five years. The world installed 99.1 GW in 2017 and is anticipated to exceed the 100 GW level in 2018. SolarPower Europe estimates that solar is on course to add another 622 GW by 2022.