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China's solar cell producers face tough situation


09:37, December 01, 2012

BEIJING, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- Chinese solar cell producers may face an even tougher situation, as India, following suit with the United States and Europe, launched an anti-dumping probe into Chinese solar energy products.

On Nov. 23, India launched an anti-dumping investigation on solar cells and other products from various regions, including China, according to a statement posted on the website of China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) on Wednesday.

The Indian market is relatively small in contrast to the European and U.S. markets, and Chinese enterprises will not suffer the same "destructive impacts." But it is plunging the battered sector into an even more difficult situation, said Liang Zongcun, an associate professor at the Institute for Solar Energy Systems of Sun Yat-Sen University.

The anti-dumping investigation is part of the Indian government's strategies to foster its new energy sector, said Zheng Lepeng, a standing deputy-head of the Guangdong Solar Energy Association.

India's move came after similar measures were taken by the U.S. and Europe.

The U.S. International Trade Commission nodded to Washington's plan in early November to issue anti-dumping and countervailing duties on imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules from China, saying that the U.S. solar industry was materially injured by the imports.

The EU in early November announced that it would investigate alleged state subsidies for Chinese solar panel manufacturers. This came amid an existing probe into allegations of "dumping" such products in European markets.

Anticipating hostile external markets, the National Energy Administration (NEA) has intervened to buffer the sudden brakes in overseas markets.

According to a report released by the NEA on Sept. 12, China will expand its installed solar power generation capacity to 21 million kilowatts by 2015, a five-fold increase from the 3.6 million kilowatts seen at the end of 2011.

The administration has also asked local authorities to make plans to establish on-site photovoltaic generation demonstration centers to boost the domestic solar industry.

On-site generation, also known as distributed generation, is seen as a desirable model for solar power development. It is usually done on a small scale near power consumers.

A key bottleneck for domestic demand for solar panels is the difficulty in connecting to the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), the country's largest electric utilities grid network provider, due to various reasons, including potential competition. More on-site generation plants could possibly mean less consumption of power provided by the SGCC.

In light of the sector's tough situation, the SGCC made concessions and announced in October that it would facilitate the process of connecting solar power stations to the main electronic grid.

It said that the SGCC will allow solar generators with less than 6 megawatts of installed capacity to be connected to the grid, and it will provide technical assistance and waive charges associated with connecting to the grid.

Solar power generation stations must target the right niche markets due to the power generation's reliance on geological conditions, and there is more potential in rural areas than in cities, said Gao Jifan, board chairman of Trina Solar, a leading solar module company.

Effective measures should be introduced like developing electric appliances generated by solar power and promoting them in remote mountainous areas that have difficulty accessing electricity, Gao said.

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