Sat, May 19, 2012 - Page 12 News List

US-China solar spat benefits Taiwan

ALTERNATIVE:Average selling prices for Taiwanese solar products could rise as Chinese firms turn to Taiwan for supply to avoid the US duty, TrendForce says

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Taiwanese solar cell makers would benefit from the US decision to slap punitive tariffs of more than 30 percent on Chinese solar panels as Chinese makers turn to Taiwan to circumvent the levy, a local market researcher said yesterday.

The size of the levy greatly exceeded expectations that the US would impose tariffs of between 15 and 20 percent to punish Chinese solar module makers for unfair trade practices and damage to US firms, TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said yesterday.

“To avoid paying the heavy tax, Chinese firms will increase their orders to Taiwanese companies, especially solar cell makers,” to continue exporting to the US, TrendForce said in a report yesterday.

The US market is estimated to account for 17 percent of the total of 26.5 gigawatts of global solar installations this year, making it the world’s second-largest market after Germany, TrendForce said.

This short-term growth in demand could lift the average selling prices of Taiwan-made solar products after a long period of weakness because of oversupply, it said.

Growing demand would give a much-needed boost to the spot price of solar cells next week, similar to what happened early this year, Trendforce said.

The spot price rose 4.36 percent in the first two months of this year before falling again. It was unchanged at US$0.462 per watt this week and has stayed flat for two weeks amid the economic uncertainty in Europe and Germany’s plan to lower subsidies for solar installation, it said.

At current levels, the price is too low for solar companies to stay profitable, TrendForce said.

With the US anti-dumping duty, the market researcher expects first-tier Chinese solar companies such as Suntech Power Holdings Co (尚德電力), Canadian Solar Inc (加拿大太陽能) and Yingli Green Energy Holding Co (英利綠色能源) to turn to sourcing from Taiwan, with more firms soon following in their footsteps.

Taiwanese solar-cell manufacturers Motech Industries Inc (茂迪), NEO Solar Power Corp (新日光), Gintech Energy Corp (昱晶能源) and Taiwan Solar Energy Corp (元晶太陽能) are expected to be among the first beneficiaries, it said in an e-mail to the Taipei Times.

“This [US ruling] will help the global solar industry return to health in the long term, but it’s still too early to tell how big the short-term effect will be,” Neo Solar chief financial officer Thomas Hsu (許嘉成) said by telephone.

Solartech Energy Corp (昇陽光電) spokesman Alex Wu (吳幸元) said the company and other makers had seen more orders coming in from Chinese solar-module makers even before the US ruling.

Wu said he expected orders from Chinese firms to increase, or those firms would have to sell more of their products to Europe, India or other markets.

“As our factories are already operating at full capacity, we will choose orders that offer better margins, while letting go of others. That means our average selling price will rise,” Wu said.

Wu added that order visibility was good because demand from Europe had not dropped despite the economic uncertainties, while demand from Japan and India was on the rise.

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