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Why does Solarworld not die Quietly

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Quasi bankrupt German solar panel maker Solarworld just refuses to die quietly. The company has been instigating solar trade wars between major trade blocs. It even managed to get duties imposed by the US government on Chinese made solar cells. This did not make any difference to the imports, as the other Asian companies filled in the void and even Chinese companies used cells made in Taiwan to export panels. All it did was to raise the costs for the end consumers, without helping the US solar manufacturers. Note the top US solar companies such as First Solar and SolarCity make solar products in Phillippines and Malaysia, so they are hardly impacted either way by the imposition of US duties.

On the other hand, polysilicon producers such as REC and Hemlock got hit by tit for tat Chinese duties on poly imports. These companies had to fire workers, as China accounts for almost 70% of the global demand for poly. With a glut in polysilicon capacity, Chinese companies could easily procure polysilicon from Korea and Europe besides their own domestic plants.

Solarworld like other German solar companies are near bankruptcy, as the high costs of making solar cells and modules in Germany is not feasible anymore. A number of top German solar companies such as Q-Cells, Solar Millennium , Bosch Solar, Siemens Solar have already got out of the business, as they are not competitive with Chinese made solar panels. Solarworld too has been fighting a losing battle for a long time. The company was one of main beneficiaries for the German subsidy law for renewable energy which created the solar industry. But now with Germany reaching saturation and subsidies coming down, Solarworld faces a bleak future. The company is now trying to get the US government to impose more stringent duties. It wants duties imposed on solar panels which use Chinese made solar wafers and polysilicon as well.

The main US solar body opposes this petition, with US ITC and Department of Commerce and wants an amicable solution. Note solar energy is still not as low priced as fossil fuel energy and will need another 3-4 years to become as low cost as other fossil fuels. The industry can do without trade wars between giant trading blocs which would raise the cost and damage the entire renewable energy industry. Europe and China came to a negotiated solution by agreeing to a volume and price quote for Chinese solar panel exports. USA and China also need to form such a pact. The world is already reeling badly from global warming. Solar Energy is going to be the main weapon to fight against global warming, as it is the only energy form which is seeing dramatic decline in cost and is green as well.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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