On May 17, the Obama administration proposed the imposition of stiff new tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels, claiming that Chinese companies are improperly flooding the US market with government-subsidized products. While 61 specific Chinese companies, including Suntech, will be subject to the duty of about 31 percent, others will be subject to a rate of 250 percent. "It is impossible to remain price-competitive with a tariff of 31 percent," said Zhang. However, the duties only apply to solar cells, not to the modules in which they are assembled, which means manufacturers on the Chinese mainland can serve the US market with cells from alternative sources. And that is exactly what they are doing.
Zhang admitted that the use of solar cells manufactured in Taiwan will push the price of his company's modules higher, and while he declined to provide figures, he insisted that the company's products will remain competitive in the US market.
At present, Taiwan has the capacity to manufacture solar cells capable of generating 7,300 mW, more than double the expected size of the US market, which is on course to be about 3,000 mW this year. The price of the cells is about 10 percent higher than those made on the mainland, according to PVMate, a photovoltaic industry magazine.
CEOs from other big solar players, including Changzhou-based Trina Solar and Suzhou-based Canadian Solar, also confirmed that they are using cells made outside the Chinese mainland to avoid the prospective tariff.
"The cost will be higher with the US duties on Chinese solar products. However, the increased cost will be transferred to the downstream US distributors, installers, and consumers," said Gao Jifan, CEO of Trina Solar, noting that several downstream US companies have been forced to delay their own projects because of uncertainties over policy and prices.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
...........damned if you do and damned if you don't.