SolarWorld Set To Take China Trade Fight To Europe

Reports that SolarWorld had formally brought its solar trade fight against China to Europe elicited a fresh round of scorn from critics within the industry on Tuesday, but the company said it had not in fact filed a complaint. Yet.

“We have always said that we will ask the European Union to take urgent action against unfair competition from Chinese solar manufacturers,” SolarWorld AG said in a statement emailed to media late Tuesday. “We can confirm that SolarWorld is working together with leading European manufacturers to urge the European Commission to act. We will not reveal any specific dates, however the European industry initiative will communicate its intentions in the coming days.”

SolarWorld Germany

SolarWorld worker, Freiberg, Germany. (image via SolarWorld)

SolarWorld’s U.S. unit has already convinced American trade authorities that the Chinese are cheating on solar, and early Tuesday The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times reported the Germany-based company had joined with other European firms in lodging a complaint with the European Commission.

The Financial Times said the complaint centered strictly on dumping, accusing Chinese firms of selling their solar products in Europe at below cost in order to shut down foreign competitors. A similar charge in the U.S. has won a preliminary ruling of duties of around 31 percent on Chinese products, to go along with anti-subsidy duties of around 4 percent.

SolarWorld’s efforts in the U.S. have drawn it some allies, particularly among domestic manufacturers, as you might expect. But installers and others have grown increasingly loud in their denunciation of the company. After the news broke — prematurely, it turned out — that a complaint had been filed in Brussels, the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy said that “like a crazed agent provocateur, SolarWorld is fueling global solar industry infighting for its own selfish interest.”

CASE is fronted by SunEdison founder Jigar Shah and includes among its members installation heavyweights such as Sunrun, Sungevity and SolarCity, as well as the U.S. units of the Chinese manufacturers Suntech and Trina Solar.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.