The talks come as the European Solar Manufacturing Council (ESMC), the body representing photovoltaic producers, this week sent a letter to Brussels appealing for “urgent” measures including a swift, EU-led buyout of their inventories.
The group argues that subsidized Chinese mass production of solar modules — which currently sell for half the price of their EU equivalents — paired with an oversupply of panels in the bloc makes it impossible for the bloc’s manufacturers to shift their stocks.
“We’re really seeing a wave of bankruptcies” in Europe, said ESMC Secretary General Johan Lindahl, citing recent insolvencies including Dutch panel producer Exasun and Austrian module manufacturer Energetic. Germany is also currently in 11th-hour talks with Meyer Burger after the Swiss solar firm said it would halt production of modules in the country as early as April.
“Everything points to the fact that Chinese manufacturers are selling below their production cost,” Lindahl said, and now the result is “very, very worrying … We’re about to lose the industry in Europe.”
The EU is hoping to bring 30 gigawatts of solar production capacity back to the bloc by 2030 as part of its proposed Net-Zero Industry Act, after losing much of its industry to Beijing a decade ago. EU countries produced just 1.5 GW of their own solar panels last year.
The solar industry is widely supportive of direct support, calling for an EU-led bailout as far back as September. But trade defense measures — including an anti-subsidy probe into China’s actions — remain more controversial.