Tue, Jan 08, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Solar worker layoffs should nullify TIF rate cut: group

SIZEABLE CUTS:The PV Generation System Association head said some solar firms have been forced to shut down production lines or eliminate jobs to handle the slow period

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

The nation’s solar industry is entering a severe downcycle with 4,000 workers taking unpaid leave and more than 10,000 temporary workers last month experiencing substantial cuts in working hours, the PV Generation System Association (PVGSA) said yesterday.

The association blamed price competition from China and the government’s plan to cut solar subsidies this year for the slump.

“Taiwanese companies in the upstream solar supply chain are suffering from price competition, with products dumped on the market by Chinese solar companies,” PVGSA head Kuo Shiuan-fu (郭軒甫) said by telephone.

“Solar system installation companies have halted investment projects. They are concerned that the government’s proposal to cut the feed-in-tariff [FIT] rate by as much as 12 percent for solar panel installations would shrink returns, or even cancel profits,” Kuo added.

Some solar companies in the supply chain have been forced to shut down production lines, or eliminate jobs to handle the arrival of the industry’s slow period, Kuo said.

These factors were reflected in the contraction in solar panel installations last month, he said, adding that installations sank to 8 megawatts (MW) last month, compared with a monthly average of 100MW over the past few years.

About 4,000 employees at local solar companies — mostly at solar module suppliers such as Motech Industries Inc (茂迪) — were forced to take unpaid leave, Kuo said.

The effects have spread to suppliers of solar panel materials and system installation service providers, with more than 10,000 temporary workers facing a 75 percent cut in working days — to five days last month from 20 days a month earlier, he said.

The PVGSA is calling on the government to reconsider its proposal to cut the FIT rate, as certain installation costs were left out of the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ calculations, he said, adding that the association is collecting more information for the ministry before the Jan. 28 deadline.

The ministry on Nov. 29 said it was proposing to slash the FIT rate by 2.92 to 12.15 percent for solar panel arrays installed on rooftops or on the ground, as well as for solar facilities on reservoirs or fishing farms.

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