A coalition of European Union (EU)-based solar manufacturers has launched EU ProSun, a new initiative designed to help maintain a ‘sustainable and vibrant’ solar manufacturing base in Europe. The group claims membership of more than 20 European companies, representing the majority of EU solar production.
The launch of EU ProSun follows the news that Germany-based SolarWorld – whose U.S. subsidiary led last fall's trade complaint against China – has formally filed a complaint with the European Commission and is seeking tariffs on Chinese solar modules imported into Europe.
SolarWorld does not publicly identify itself as a leader of EU ProSun in the group's announcement. However, Milan Nitzschke, president of EU ProSun, is head of marketing and communications at SolarWorld AG, according to the company's website.
‘We strongly believe in Europe's solar future,’ Nitzschke said in a press release announcing the formation of EU ProSun. ‘Therefore, this week, we officially requested that the European Commission investigate unfair trade practices by Chinese solar manufacturers.
‘Chinese companies have captured over 80 percent of the EU market for solar products – from virtually zero only a few years ago,’ Nitzschke continued. ‘EU manufacturers have the world's best solar technologies but are beaten in their home market due to illegal dumping of Chinese solar products below their cost of production.’
Unless the EU takes action, there will no longer be any manufacturing or research and development solar jobs left in Europe, the group warned.
China-based solar manufacturer Trina Solar immediately countered the claims made by EU ProSun.
In a statement, the company insisted that its transactions with customers in Europe were made in accordance with fair trade practices. Trina added that it is confident that these facts will be affirmed with any trade-complaint proceedings.
‘Today, the price for solar energy is already competitive with more carbon-intensive energy sources in some areas in Europe,’ said Ben Hill, president of Trina Solar Europe, in the company's statement. ‘A misguided trade conflict could undermine years of solar industry progress, investment and innovation in Europe.’
The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy and Suntech, among others, have also expressed concern that bringing Europe into the global solar trade conflict would harm the industry's progress.