China is the global leader in solar panel production, part of the reason solar panels in the U.S. have fallen recently and a number of U.S. companies are struggling.
Following a recent investigation, the Obama administration opted to impose duties on Chinese-manufactured solar cell imports after suspicion that Chinese companies were receiving unnecessary and unfair subsidies.
But now a move by Chinese companies involved in panel production could further throttle the U.S. industry.
Chinese silicon makers, including GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd. and Daqo New Energy Corp., are urging the Ministry of Commerce to levy duties on U.S. imports.
The ministry has yet to accept the case, but if it goes through, then prices for silicon supply competitors will jump up and competition to Chinese companies will be greatly reduced.
Gao Hongling, deputy secretary-general of the China Photovoltaic Industry Alliance, told Bloomberg:
“China’s Ministry of Commerce will consider Sino-U.S. trade to determine whether to accept the complaints.”
But Jenny Chase, head of Solar Research for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said these duties might not be good for Chinese manufacturers, either.
“While Chinese silicon manufacturers may be keen for tariffs on silicon imports from the U.S., the vast majority of Chinese solar companies buy silicon and so will be fiercely opposed to any measure that increases the price,” Chase said.
Between January and April, China bought 26,000 tons of polysilicon, of which the U.S. provided nearly 45%. Current international price hovers around $26 a kilogram.