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Solar panel tariffs ‘could inflate consumer costs’

Plans to add punitive tariffs to Chinese solar panels could lead to a 25% increase in cost to consumers

Gregory BarkerEuropean plans to implement tariffs on cheap Chinese solar panel imports will inflate costs for consumers, energy minister Greg Barker has warned.

The EU plans to impose “swingeing” punitive tariffs on solar panels being imported from China as it attempts to end “dumping” of products from the country in Europe.

This comes after the European Commission accused China of undercutting European rivals by selling below-cost panels, and in doing so threatening 25,000 jobs in the solar industry.

Opposition to the tariffs

These tariffs are opposed by 17 other EU countries, and are set to rise to an average of 47.6% in two months time. What’s more, some Chinese firms will come up against tariffs as high as 68%.

However, according to Mr Barker, the steep tariffs will have a “chilling effect” on the solar panel installation sector.

“The knock-on effects will be huge: these tariffs will cause heavy job losses in the wider solar photovoltaic sector across the EU; they will raise the cost to consumers of installing household solar panels by up to 25%; and they will have a devastating impact on the viability of solar projects across the EU,” he said, writing in the Telegraph.

The EU’s 2020 target

In his joint letter with Swedish energy minister Anna-Karin Hatt, the expert added that the initiative could potentially even put at risk the EU’s efforts to meet its own target. This goal is to generate 20% of energy from renewables by the year 2020.

According to the ministers, the measures will only offer “old-fashioned protection to a small number of European manufacturers”. They also highlighted that free trade is important to European consumers and companies.

Mr Barker did acknowledge that the EU needs to guard against dumping, but added: “we simply do not accept that the EC’s proposals would achieve that, or that they come at an acceptable cost.”