31 Jan 2024

Europe's Solar Panel Manufacturers Ask EU for Emergency Support

31 Jan 2024  by reuters   

Sheep graze next to solar panels of Germany's largest solar park Weesow-Willmersdorf by energy supplier EnBW AG during sunset in Werneuchen, Germany September 21, 2023. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights
Europe's solar panel manufacturing industry has urged the European Union to step in with emergency measures to avoid local firms shutting down under price pressure from Chinese imports, a letter seen by Reuters showed.

Multiple European solar manufacturers have announced plans to close factories in recent months, citing pressure from a flood of imports and an oversupply of solar panel parts that have piled up in European warehouses and pushed down prices.

In a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, industry group the European Solar Manufacturing Council (ESMC) warned that without rapid help, the EU risked losing more than half of its operational solar photovoltaic module manufacturing capacity within weeks.

"Over the next 4–8 weeks, major EU PV module producers and their European suppliers are poised to shut down manufacturing lines unless substantial emergency measures are promptly implemented," said the letter, dated Jan. 30.

ESMC asked the EU to launch emergency measures including a scheme to buy up excess inventories of EU solar modules to ease the oversupply, and change state aid rules to boost government support for local solar producers.

If those measures cannot be done rapidly, the EU should also consider "safeguard" measures that could include tariffs and quotas to counter a surge of imports, the letter said.

Europe is rapidly expanding solar energy, installing a record 56 GW of new capacity last year.

But while that fast growth is crucial to meet climate change targets, it is also heavily reliant on imported components from China - prompting some other industry groups to oppose tariffs that could disrupt supplies from China and potentially slow the roll-out of green energy.

Switzerland's Meyer Burger (MBTN.S), opens new tab is among the European firms struggling, this month announcing plans to close its loss-making production plant in Germany unless the government delivered promised funding.


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