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European Commission to Lift Controls on Chinese Solar Imports

Previous studies have suggested access to lower cost Chinese solar products could cut costs.

After five years, EU decides to lift price controls on Chinese solar panels entering the EU

The European Commission has decided to lift controls on Chinese solar panels entering the EU market in a move likely to see the availability of lower cost panels improve across the bloc.

As was widely expected, the Commission announced late last week it will scrap minimum import price (MIP) s.

It claimed the decision was taken in the "best interest of the EU as a whole" and with a view to supporting the bloc's new renewable energy targets.

The MIP was imposed by the EU on Chinese solar goods in December 2013, and extended by a further 18 months last March, in response to fears EU solar manufacturers were struggling to compete with Chinese firms that had allegedly benefitted from unfair levels of state support.

But developers and installers argued the measures increased the cost of buying and installing solar equipment across Europe, slowing the bloc's transition to a low carbon electricity system.

Previous studies have suggested access to lower cost Chinese solar products could cut costs and lead to an increase in solar deployment across Europe of up to 30 per cent. The hope is that allowing access to Chinese panels and supporting technologies at market prices will help drive continued deployment of solar capacity, even as clean energy subsidies across the bloc are scaled back.

However, the move is likely to anger the handful of solar technology manufacturers based in Europe, who have long argued that import measures are required to create a level playing field with low cost Chinese importers.

In a statement the Commission insisted the time was right to let the MIP policy lapse. "The Commission observed that the market situation has not changed to the extent that this would justify a further extension of the measures now beyond the scheduled 18 months," it said. "It therefore rejected the EU industry's request for an expiry review investigation."

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