The Chinese and Europeans have come to a deal regarding export of solar panels made in China to Europe. Under the deal, China will be allowed to export a maximum of 7 GW of solar panels at a price of 56 eurocents/watt. This will provide some sort of floor to the solar panel prices in Europe and ostensibly provide relief to the European solar panel makers. We have analyzed the deal and come to the conclusion that this whole rigmarole resulted in no benefits to Europe, rather it resulted in higher costs for European consumers and benefits for the largest Chinese and Taiwanese/Korean solar panel makers.
Read on GWI List of Solar Companies By Country.
Why Europeans won’t benefit
The European solar industry like the US solar panel industry has effectively migrated toward the downstream part of the supply chain into EPC, development etc. This deal will lead to a 20-22% escalation in solar panel costs, which will transform into a 10% increase in the overall cost of a solar system. This money will be paid by the European consumer and will go directly into the pocket of the solar panel providers in Asia. Europe does not have a solar panel industry which can compete even at 20% higher prices than the market dictated solar panel prices, which are now near 45 eurocent/kw. USA at least is getting anti dumping duties and CVD duties but Europe through this deal is getting nothing in return.
Who in China will benefit
The leading Chinese makers such as Trina Solar (TSL), Yingli Green Energy (YGE) etc. will be the main beneficiaries. These companies have strong distribution networks and a recognized brand, so installers will be happy to buy panels from them at 56 c/watt. The lower tier Chinese makers who compete mainly on price will be effectively shut out of the European market and will be forced in the cutthroat Chinese market where there is no floor price on solar panels.
The bigger Chinese solar companies such as Renesola (SOL) and China Sunenergy (CSUN) have also established bases in other countries such as Turkey. They will be able to bypass the pricing control and maybe able to sell below the floor price using their non-Chinese bases, though it will be difficult given the higher costs.
Read more about Chinese Solar Panels.
Non- Chinese and European players will also benefit
The Taiwanese solar industry has been saved from the severe price war unleashed by the Chinese solar giants due to the solar trade wars. These companies have helped Chinese companies bypass the US duties by supplying solar cells to Chinese solar panel makers. They have also managed to increase capacity utilization to 100%, by supplying components to Japanese players. Now Europe will help them to keep their factories humming and increase prices as they supply the Chinese for the European market.
The Korean solar companies too have decent capacity and could sell in Europe, as the volume quota left for non-Chinese companies is still not bad at 4-5 GW. They have the low cost solar panel capacity to leverage this opportunity. Hanwha is one of the largest solar panel companies with factories in Korea, European and Malaysia.