Chinese solar panel makers are destroying European competitors but Brussels

Chinese solar panel makers are destroying European competitors, but Brussels doesn’t know what to do about it

How reports edition Politico, The European Union faces a very serious choice: does it want to be “green” or strategically successful in the long term? Because the EU will not be able to do both at the same time. European solar panel manufacturers are openly saying that if the authorities do not take protective measures, Chinese products will destroy their business in a matter of months or even weeks.

 Image source: AI generation Kandinsky 3.0/3DNews

Image source: AI generation Kandinsky 3.0/3DNews

“Even though the European Union needs to decarbonize, it is increasingly dependent on imports from China, which it calls an economic competitor and, worse, a systemic rival.” – writes the publication.

On the one hand, the EU is allocating billions of euros to accelerate the deployment of solar power plants across Europe. Panels for these tasks and volumes can only be purchased in China, including supplies from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which cannot even be discussed outside of a political context, much less establish close economic relations.

Such a business model threatens to destroy the last few European solar panel plants and goes against the proposals of a group of countries led by France that are advocating a reindustrialization of the European Union. Such a confrontation will certainly result in lengthy bargaining within the EU government with a result that is still unclear. But the fact that this will only delay the adoption of a strategic decision, whatever it may be, is very, very likely.

 Image source: IEA

Projected solar panel production capacity in 2027. Image source: IEA

“The situation is really alarming, said Johan Lindahl, Secretary General of the European Solar Energy Council (ESMC), which represents local manufacturers. “We could lose a lot of European industry in the next couple of months unless there is a strong political signal.”

The European Commission has begun preliminary discussions on options to help producers, but made no concrete commitments during a European Parliament debate last Monday that many in the industry hoped would show the bloc was taking the issue seriously.

The head of financial services of the European Commission, Mairead McGuinness, told European legislators during a session in Strasbourg to “worked closely” and that low prices for products “clearly a problem for solar panel manufacturers in the EU”. At the same time, she confirmed that the EU authorities will “work closely with EU industry to make every effort at a technical and political level”.

 Solar panel production costs by country by category

Solar panel production costs by country by category

Today, Chinese companies control over 80% of the global silicon solar panel supply chain. By comparison, the EU produced only 3% of the solar panels installed last year. Is it possible to do something in such conditions? This seems unlikely.

Something can only be changed by a complete change of course towards the development of the relevant industry in Europe. It is necessary to accept that China is an existential threat and there is a chance only in the development of such advanced technologies where Europe still has advantages. Ultimately, it is necessary to recognize the significant threat to national security and act accordingly. And everything would be fine, but there are elections in the EU only this summer, so officials will be busy with completely different problems.

About the author

Dylan Harris

Dylan Harris is fascinated by tests and reviews of computer hardware.

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