The United States Commerce Department ruled Thursday that Chinesemanufacturers are guilty of dumping solar panels in the US marketfor less than it cost to make them, a violation of World TradeOrganization rules that had harmed American manufacturers. As a result, the Chinese manufacturers including Wuxi SuntechPower Co., Ltd. and Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Col, Ltd., amongothers will have to start paying a tariff of more than 31percent when their products enter the US market. The ruling adds a major point of friction to already troubledUS-China relations, which have been soured recently by a disputeover human rights. The ruling was a major victory for a coalition led by sevencompanies with US facilities that brought the trade complaint lastfall.
That group, the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing(CASM), led by German-based Solar World, which has US manufacturingplants, called the Commerce finding a positive first step. Commerce s ruling in the SolarWorld case is a bellwetherdecision, said Steve Ostrenga, chief executive officer of HeliosSolar Works, a CASM member company. It underscores the importanceof domestic manufacturing to the US economy and will help determinewhether the country will be a global competitor in cleantechnologies or outsource them China. It is also criticallyimportant for thousands of US workers.
But the ruling was criticized by the Coalition for Affordable SolarEnergy (CASE), a group of domestic solar installers and Chinesemanufacturers. “It will ultimately come right out of the paychecks of Americansolar workers,” Jigar Shah, president of CASE said in a statement.The decision, he predicted, would boost solar electricity prices inthe US “precisely at the moment solar power is becoming competitivewith fossil fuel generated electricity. In a preliminary ruling in March, Commerce determined that Chineseproducers and exporters had also received subsidies ranging from2.90 percent to 4.73 percent, a smaller advantage over USmanufacturers than many analysts had expected. The dumping decision, like the subsidy decision, is alsopreliminary. Diode Laser Lipolysis
A final decision will be delivered later this year onboth. The preliminary tariffs could be increased, or slashed ifimporters are able to argue their case persuasively enough. The ruling wasn’t entirely a surprise. It follows a January findingby the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administrationthat Chinese manufacturers had received heavy subsidies via dozensof low-cost Chinese government loan programs. China Lipo Laser Slimming Machine
Amid that competition, now seen as unfair, solar photovoltaicmodule production in the US dropped from 1,273 megawatts in 2010 to1,219 megawatts in 2011. The cause was due to “global oversupplyand the shuttering of a number of production facilities,” accordingto a 2011 year-in-review study conducted for the Solar EnergyIndustries Association by GTM Research. At the same time, however, imports of Chinese solar cells andmodules into the US more than doubled from 2010 to 2011, with theirvalue soaring from $1.5 billion to $3.1 billion, the CommerceDepartment found. Amid that flood, US-based SpectraWatt, founded in 2008, closed lastyear. Endovenous Laser Treatment
Evergreen Solar Inc. and Solyndra, the California companythat received a $535 million federal loan guarantee, shut lastyear, too. Sanyo last month said it plans to close its solar ingotand wafer factory in Carson, Calif., laying off about 140 workers. “Everybody knows that what the Chinese charge for modules is veryclose to their production costs,” Fatima Toor, a solar industryanalyst with Lux Research, a Boston-based renewable energy marketresearch firm, told the Monitor in a March interview. “They havegovernment backing and government support to help them survive.They can get away selling near cost, while it’s hard if you are aUS manufacturer to do that.”.