‘Abolish solar import tax to cut cost of panels’

Tariffs on imported Chinese solar panels must be abolished in order to reduce installation costs and allow the sector to remain viable without government support, according to the Solar Trade Association (STA).

It is urging policymakers in Brussels to scrap the import tariff on solar panels coming into Europe from China, as it is keeping build costs for all new projects artificially high.

The controversial measures were originally imposed for two years in 2013 to protect European panel manufacturers from cheap imports, but the scheme was extended when the European Commission began a review into the import tariffs last year – the outcome of which is not expected for another year.

See also: UK solar industry takes further blow this time from Brussels

Existing arrangements require any solar panels and modules imported into the EU from China to be sold at or above a minimum import price of €0.56/watt (approximately £0.43) for solar modules, which is above the world price of nearer USD0.55/watt (£0.39), or pay an anti-dumping tariff of 64.9%.

“Combined with the major cut in the Feed-In Tariffs introduced in January, the closure of the solar Renewables Obligation and the threatened hike in VAT, it is a dangerous policy mix for the sector”
Solar Trade Association

As the UK solar industry is a net importer of solar panels this adds around 7% to the cost of a typical 4kW domestic solar PV scheme, or £123,000 to the build cost of a 10MW solar farm, the STA says.

“This is considerably slowing the technology’s progress towards competing subsidy-free in the UK.

“Combined with the major cut in the Feed-In Tariffs introduced in January, the closure of the solar Renewables Obligation and the threatened hike in VAT, it is a dangerous policy mix for the sector.”

UK ministers are pressing for tariffs to be dropped but it is unclear which way the decision will go, the STA says.

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