STOP DITHERING ON SOLAR PANEL FEED-IN TARIFFS
6th September, 2012
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Last month, the Department of Energy and Climate Change announced additional cuts to the feed-in tariff subsidy for solar panels on top of the substantial cuts already announced in May. People installing solar panels are now entitled to 16p per kilowatt hour of electricity generated, instead of 21p before, and the subsidy will only run for 20 years compared to 25 years previously.
Some people will argue that solar power is still a good investment but by the elementary economic law of supply and demand, such cuts will undoubtedly suppress demand for solar panels unless their price drops. Now China has waded into the European solar panel market in a big way but in the process, it has attracted the attention of the European Commission which announced today that it will investigate alleged dumping of €20bn worth of panels below their market value by subsidising its exporters.
The complaint was lodged last month by a newly-formed pressure group called EU ProSun, a group of over 20 solar panel manufacturers. One can understand EU Prosun's chagrin if subsidies are being cut at home while being increased in China. China is the world's biggest solar panel maker with about 65 percent of global production, and about 80% of its panels go to the European Union.
True to form, China has warned of retaliation, saying that restricting its solar panel products will not only hurt the interests of both Chinese and European industry, but will also wreck the healthy development of the global solar and clean energy sector. China said the EU should, "seriously consider China's position and proposals, and resolve friction over solar panel trade through consultations and cooperation."
Earlier this week, UK Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to ‘cut through the dither’ which was holding back Britain, but dithering over whether to give feed-in tariff subsidies to homeowners will not stop China from taking advantage. The message for B2B and industrial marketing? You can wait too long to launch. Being perfect is sometimes not as important as being first.