The wicked case concerning European producers of PV cells

Korean investment group Hanwha has formalized on the 30th of August the purchase of Q-Cells, a German PV producer amongst European leaders in the renewable energy sector. This company, once one of world´s biggest, was burdened with debt and it had to show white flag to competitors in order to save the majority of its workers from unemployment.

This acquisition represents a crucial event in the global PV industry and once again it marks the decline of European producers of photovoltaic panels that inevitably succumb before Asian giants.

We are talking about a situation undoubtedly negative in many ways but, if we stop to look at the other side of the coin, it presents some clear advantages to European investors.

Of course European producers have been heavily damaged by a Chinese energy policy that has helped the country to rise in a few years from zero to over 50% of world production of photovoltaic panels. This was possible because Chinese government continues to pump money into the industry to support producers who otherwise could not survive selling plates at a price sometimes lower than production costs.

In contrast, although we apparently stand before a clear example of dumping (the U.S. already moved to protect its domestic market) and producers are asking for urgent anti-dumping measures, the European Union still has chosen not to act in this way.

The reasons are to be found mainly in Germany's position. This country, after removing nuclear energy from his energy mix, plans to rely massively on photovoltaic and for this reason it seems unwilling to give up the benefits of low prices granted by Chinese-made panels.

Thus we can conclude saying that not always a seemingly negative situation is completely unfavorable. Although we all would like to see European producers prosper economically in a growing market, we have to conform ourselves with a reality which is at the same time harsh and rich of opportunities.

Perhaps the Chinese government aids may allow the EU photovoltaic market, which remains the world's largest, to take advantage of the lower price to finally evolve and become more independent from feed-in tariffs that, in countries like Spain and Italy, have recently been scapegoated by the concerns of the ruling class.

One more step towards a distributed energy generation.


UPDATE: The European Commission has initiated on Thursday an anti-dumping investigation into the import of Chinese solar panels. Immediate reactions are spreading throughout the web with many ONG, government bodies and industry representatives explaining their position in favor or against the Commission’s decision.
We will keep you up to date in the following weeks!!