Mixed Greens: China solar stocks spike on US tariff call

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Soft US tariff translates as win for Chinese solar market; EnerNOC builds on NZ demand response success; Dyesol view improves with bigger solar window.

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The shares of China’s three leading solar panel makers – Trina Solar, Yingli Green Energy and Suntech Power – rose sharply on Tuesday, and in turn led the shares of all Chinese solar stocks higher, after the US Commerce Department announced preliminary tariffs on imported Chinese solar panels that were more modest than anticipated. In what TheStreet.com has described as “a precedent-setting victory on paper” for companies like German-headquartered SolarWorld who, with its US manufacturing base in Oregon, led the trade complaint against its Chinese counterparts, the market reaction indicated what US solar experts broadly consider a punishment. While Chinese stocks rallied, the stocks of US solar panel leaders Sunpower and First Solar declined – although The Street‘s Eric Rosenbaum points out that selling pressure on First Solar could also be because its large-scale solar projects came under congressional attack on the Department of Energy loan program on Tuesday.

Still, the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing has put “the best face” on the result, reports Reuters, the US industry group expressing confidence that the Commerce Department would uncover more Chinese subsidies and unfair pricing practices as it continued its probe in coming months, and that this would lead to a higher final tariff. “Today’s announcement affirms what US manufacturers have long known: Chinese manufacturers have received unfair and WTO-illegal subsidies,” said Steve Ostrenga, chief executive officer of Helios Solar Works in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “We appreciate the Commerce Department’s hard work in bringing these subsidies to light, and we look forward to addressing all of China’s unfair trade practices in the solar industry.”

Meanwhile, Chinese solar executives said the low tariff call served as a vindication, of sorts. “We’re pleased and in large part feel vindicated,” Robert Petrina, managing director of Yingli Green Energy’s US business said. “I think it is a positive outcome and I think it really speaks to the crux of the argument” that Chinese producers are not heavily subsidised. The Commerce Department determined Chinese solar cell and panel manufacturers received government subsidies worth 2.90 per cent to 4.73 per cent of the value of their product, industry officials on both sides of the case said. Importers will have to post bonds or cash deposits based on the preliminary countervailing duty rates while the department continues its investigation.

EnerNOC responds to demand in NZ

Boston-based EnerNOC Inc – the self-described “world’s leading provider of demand response applications and services” – announced this week that it will provide automated demand response capacity for Genesis Energy on New Zealand’s South Island. The company, which last December acquired Energy Response Pty Ltd, the largest demand response provider in Australia and New Zealand, has three Antipodean branches – two in Australia (Melbourne, WA) and one in NZ (Wellington). It says the new NZ  agreement builds on its success on the country’s North Island, and makes it the first demand response aggregator to secure reserve capacity in the South Island.

EnerNOC says it will begin immediately enrolling “a robust, diverse portfolio of energy users” from industries such as manufacturing, food processing, and cold storage, who will be paid based on the load reduction they can provide, and when an under-frequency dispatch is triggered, this load will be instantaneously removed from the grid. The company says this can be done in a staggered fashion, which limits the further stress on the grid that would occur if they were all to come back online at once. EnerNOC’s AutoDR resources will then be offered year-round to the instantaneous reserves market, which helps to maintain reliable, cost-effective, and clean energy supply throughout New Zealand.

The new agreement expands on EnerNOC’s success on the North Island, where it crossed the 100MW weekly average bidding threshold in late 2011. Demand for the company’s AutoDR resources has so far proven greater in New Zealand than Australia, with the former committing to a target of 90 per cent renewable energy mix by 2025, and whose grid is already largely served by hydropower, the majority of which flows northward from the South Island. The nation’s instantaneous reserves market helps to maintain reliable import and export of electricity between the islands by regulating frequency.

Dyesol view improves with bigger window

Dye solar cell technology outfit Dyesol announced today that it has managed to produce its largest ever solar window – or the largest continuous substrate, single circuit series connected DSC device made to date – with the assembly of prototype DSC Solar panels exceeding 1.20 meters x 60 cm in size. Delaware-based Dyesol Inc, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Australia-based Dyesol Ltd and joint venture partner in the Toledo startup DyeTec Solar, says its team has overcome challenges associated with assembly of large glass-based Dye Sensitized Solar Cells (DSC) panels for Building Integrated Photo Voltaic (BIPV) applications. The size was only limited by available prototyping equipment and utilized the JV partners Transparent Conduction Oxide (TCO) glass and DSC materials.

Marc Thomas, CEO and president of Dyesol Inc, says the very large assembly of DSC laminated glass panels was achieved through the hard work and vision of two world class teams. “These developments confirm that future products can be produced in relatively ‘low tech’ manufacturing environments… thus leading to reduced overall production costs,” he said. Richard Caldwell, executive chairman of Dyesol Ltd, described the proof of concept achievement as significant. “The BIPV market for glass is expected to reach $US6.4 billion in revenues in 2016,” he said. “This opportunity represents considerable demand for both DyeTec products and partner materials. Glass-based BIPV is where technological progress and energy policy merge creating more sustainable urban environments, where buildings become energy self sufficient and energy secure. We look forward to taking the next important step towards commercialisation with the scale-up of activity in Ohio.”

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3 Comments
  1. kafantaris 8 years ago

    This is a stupid move.
    For all that matters, the Chinese can give us the solar panels for free. In the end, we are the ones who will get the benefit, since we are the ones who will end up the cheaper solar energy.
    Why are we fighting it then?
    Erecting barriers against cheap solar panels — no matter who makes them — directly translates to erecting barriers against cheap renewable energy.
    Imposing such obstacles at time of high energy prices is utter foolishness.

  2. Rohan Wilson 8 years ago

    Kafantaris
    When you say ‘we’ you mean who . We in the sense of the greater non Chinese world or wee in Oz . The Yanks are the ones on heat because they believe in WTO and they believe the Chinese are weeing on their solar manufacturing jobs. Wee on the other hand don’t have a solar manufacturing business -so your right – bring it on !

    • Jake 8 years ago

      There’s no legitimate reason for us to surrender solar manufacturing to the US or China, it’s mostly done with automated factories that require a high level of precision and expertise. We have a world-class research base, and it would be cheap for us to import expensive equipment for the factories. The only thing holding us back is the lack of demand.

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