China faces oversupply of solar panels, wind turbines

Source: E&E • Posted: Monday, October 8, 2012

The quick growth of China’s manufacturing capacity has led to a huge oversupply of solar panels and wind turbines and a price war.

Manufacturers, state-owned banks and local governments are now facing a financial disaster. Panel prices have fallen by three-fourths since 2008, leaving the country’s biggest solar panel makers with losses of up to $1 for every $3 of sales this year.

As a result, some renewable energy advocates are hoping for a survival-of-the-fittest scenario: They want more businesses to shut down so the most efficient can become financially salvageable.

“If one-third of them survive, that’s good, and two-thirds of them die, but we don’t know how that happens,” said Li Junfeng, director-general for energy and climate policy at China’s National Development and Reform Commission.

Some executives are blaming their difficulties partly on U.S. anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs on solar panel imports, as well as the European Union’s recent decision to start its own anti-dumping investigation of Chinese imports.

“It is not a Chinese industry problem,” said Rory Macpherson, a spokesman for Suntech Power, one of China’s largest solar panel manufacturers. “It is primarily the result of an imbalance between supply and demand, and the U.S. and E.U. trade investigations” (Keith Bradsher, New York Times, Oct. 4). — JE