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CASE: SolarWorld’s allegations against Chinese PV firms are ‘hypocritical’

The industry group fighting against tariffs on Chinese PV imports claimed that the company leading the charge against Chinese imports also sells below-cost products and benefits from subsidies.

On May 3, the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) said that SolarWorld’s claims that Chinese manufacturers are dumping below-cost PV products in the U.S. market are false. Solar World heads up the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM), the group pushing for tariffs on Chinese PV imports.

Citing SolarWorld testimony to the International Trade Commission (ITC) as well as statements to various media sources, CASE charges that SolarWorld has admitted to selling solar cells and panels at a loss in order to stay competitive and maintain market share.

Quality inspection station in module assembly at the SolarWorld manufacturing facility in Hillsboro, Oregon. Photo Credit: SolarWorld

According to CASE, “this aggressive pricing strategy is exactly what German-based SolarWorld accuses its China-based competitors of doing.”

“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.”

But according to a May 7 statement, CASM claims that CASE’s allegation is “both factually and legally incorrect, as by law U.S. producers cannot dump in the U.S. market.”

“The trade laws are designed to remedy dumping and subsidies that injure a competing foreign industry, and CASE’s statement concedes this exact point: We are harmed by excess Chinese capacity that is dumped in the United States.”

CASE also argued that SolarWorld has received over $100 million in subsidies and government support in the U.S., Qatar and Germany, though “[t]he exact degree of subsidies is unknown, because SolarWorld has not provided a detailed account of the subsidies it has received globally.”

“SolarWorld initially accused its competitors of receiving subsidies, even as SolarWorld received millions of dollars in subsidies itself,” said Shah. “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.”

CASM fired back, saying that “CASE’s claims about U.S. subsidies are false, easily disproved, and irrelevant to the trade cases against the Chinese industry” but did not elaborate further.

Meanwhile, on May 10, the newly formed Global Solar Council denied media reports that it was created specifically to weigh in on the anti-dumping and subsidy claims currently under consideration by the Department of Commerce and ITC.

The GSC simply said one of its objectives is to “create awareness among stakeholders that free and open market conditions are essential to maintain a thriving global market for solar energy.”


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