I just got the following email from the Coaltion for Affordable Solar Energy.
Thought you might like to read it. . .
The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) today called on SolarWorld to stop falsely charging that its China-based competitors are selling solar cells below the cost of production. CASE noted that SolarWorld has openly admitted to selling its solar cells and modules at a loss, as all solar manufacturers globally are struggling to remain profitable amidst a highly competitive market environment for solar cells and modules.
According to testimony before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and media interviews, SolarWorld has stated it is selling its products below the cost of production in an effort to maintain market share. This aggressive pricing strategy is exactly what German-based SolarWorld accuses its China-based competitors of doing as part of petitions before the U.S. Department of Commerce’s anti-dumping investigation. A ruling for preliminary tariffs on anti-dumping is expected to be announced by the Department on May 17.
In public testimony to the ITC, Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld’s U.S. subsidiary, alleged that declining solar cell prices caused significant harm to his company and added: “The more product we sell, the more money we lose.”
This hypocritical remark confirms earlier media reports that SolarWorld is selling its products below the cost of production. According to an October 2011 report with The World, a co-production of WGBH/Boston, Public Radio International, and the BBC World Service, “[SolarWorld] is selling these panels for less than it costs to make them.”
Numerous industry analysts have pointed to the huge increase in silicon and solar cell production capacity, which has outpaced growing demand, as responsible for the rapid drop in global solar cell and module prices. Solar manufacturers around the world, not just in the United States, are confronted with extremely competitive cell and module price pressures in the current oversupply environment.
"There is simply more supply than there is demand," Gordon Johnson, managing director and senior analyst for alternative energy companies at Axiom Capital Management, told the International Business Times. "It's very simple economics." Johnson says that Chinese solar companies are not dumping their solar components – they can simply make them cheaper and more attractive to investors.
“It’s certainly an extremely competitive global market for solar cells and modules, and we don’t fault SolarWorld for cutting its prices to compete,” said Jigar Shah, president of CASE. “But we do fault SolarWorld for hypocritically attacking its competitors at the expense of the American solar industry.”
Shah continued, “SolarWorld initially accused its competitors of receiving subsidies, even as SolarWorld received millions of dollars in subsidies itself. When that didn’t work, SolarWorld accused its competitors of dumping products, while carrying on their own dumping activities. SolarWorld should just litigate against itself and stop putting over 100,000 American solar jobs at stake.”
“If successful, SolarWorld’s trade case will undermine the long-term job creation potential, infrastructure investment and overall growth of the U.S. solar industry,” remarked Kevin Lapidus, senior vice president of legal and government affairs of SunEdison.
Shah was referring to earlier reports that SolarWorld has received more than one hundred million dollars in subsidies and government support in the United States, Qatar, and Germany. The exact degree of subsidies is unknown, because SolarWorld has not provided a detailed account of the subsidies it has received globally. Examples of subsidies benefitting SolarWorld:
According to Handelsblatt, a German publication, SolarWorld has received 130 million Euros in direct subsidies in Germany between 2003 and 2011.
According to the Portland Tribune, SolarWorld received a US$11 million Business Energy Tax Credit in Oregon that it immediately sold to Wal-Mart for US$7.3 million in 2009. It then applied for a second round of tax credits and received an additional US$19.4 million.
According the U.S. Department of Energy, SolarWorld was “awarded a clean energy manufacturing tax credit of $82.2 million to expand its existing 100 MW solar photovoltaic manufacturing plant to 500 MW.”
According to PV Tech, a leading solar industry publication, SolarWorld received around US$19 million in preferential export financing for projects in India.
According to a SolarWorld press release, SolarWorld has entered a joint-venture partnership with the Qatar Development Bank, a Qatar government-backed investment bank, for the construction of polysilicon facility in Qatar.
The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), a coalition of American solar companies representing 97% to 98% of U.S. solar industry jobs, believes free trade and industry competition are critical to making solar electricity affordable for everyone. CASE is united in its commitment to creating jobs through the growth and development of the American solar industry.