Chinese solar shipments may drop 75% on US tariffs

Chinese solar panel shipments to North America may be cut by 75 percent this year because of an anti-dumping ruling by the US Commerce Department, according to IHS Inc.

The cut in Chinese supplies may reduce North America’s total panel imports by 45 percent, driving up prices for the modules, El Segundo, California-based IHS said in an e-mailed statement. The consulting company had estimated Chinese manufacturers would account for 2 gigawatts of imports, a figure it says may now drop by as much as 1.5 gigawatts.

“The Commerce Department action will have a major impact on the North American solar market, constraining supplies and driving up prices for modules and systems,” Mike Sheppard, a photovoltaics analyst with IHS, said in the statement. “The penalties are likely to add as much as 12 percent to the cost of solar modules, lowering the average return on investment for solar systems in the region by as much as 2.5 percent.”

Chinese solar companies criticized the Commerce Department’s May 17 preliminary finding that they improperly benefit from government subsidies and sell solar cells below cost. The department is scheduled to make its final determination on the solar tariffs in early October.

The US unit of SolarWorld AG, which brought the complaint, said it was responding to thousands of job losses due to Chinese trade practices. At least four US solar manufacturers filed for bankruptcy in the past year.

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