The majority of solar installation companies in the European Union (EU) are opposed to penalties and protective tariffs on solar products, and should such measures be introduced, installers will be forced to change their product portfolios accordingly, says Germany-based market research firm EuPD Research. This change will also affect European products partly containing Chinese components.
Since March, companies have been required to register the import of products from Chinese photovoltaic manufacturers with EU authorities. This rule applies to Chinese crystalline photovoltaic modules, wafers and cells. Experts presume that in June, an EU commission will meet to discuss the possible introduction of protective tariffs, known as anti-dumping tariffs.
EuPD Research's recent survey, which involved approximately 120 European installers, was designed to examine the impact of potential tariffs on ‘small scale craftspersons.’ Most respondents expressed opposition to tariffs.
‘The most widely used arguments brought up by installers against protective tariffs are that these measures would endanger their business models and that a general price increase would be likely to occur,’ Dr. Thomas Olbrecht, head of sales at EuPD Research. ‘Many installers also fear that some European products could also be affected by the punitive measures due to their use of Chinese suppliers.’
If tariffs are enacted, companies with Chinese products in their portfolios stated that they would only purchase these from trade wholesalers in the future in order to reduce the risk of being affected by retroactive payments. Some of the installers with Chinese products in their portfolios have also considered changing their suppliers and would give preference to European manufacturers.
Additionally, according to the EuPD Research survey, installers who already carry only European products do not plan to change their purchasing habits but will nevertheless carry out thorough checks of the specifications and supplier countries of the products they offer.
The survey also found that most of the installers surveyed are not satisfied with the information policy of the Chinese manufacturers. The installers expect concise and honest information and would prefer that manufacturers would include them in the discussion of such matters and communicate more clearly what effects the punitive tariffs would have on the supply situation, prices and possible retroactive payments.
According to the survey, installers also expect the media to provide more objective information on the situation. However, they also expect consumer media publications to pander more to party politics and not to sufficiently fulfill their role as neutral relayers of information.