Solar energy: “China holds practically 80% of the market…” Are we heading for the end of El Dorado?

Although solar panels appear on thousands of French roofs every year, the green energy sector is under threat. European companies, including those based in France, are no longer benefiting from this madness. Will you witness the decline of solar energy from here?

Alarm bells are ringing in the four corners of Europe. In Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and France, the observation is the same: solar panel manufacturers are in great danger. However, PV has never done as well as it has in recent years, especially in France.

The proof is that in 2023, Enedis announced that more than three gigawatts of capacity had been installed in France, an increase of more than 30% on the previous year. Around 3,125 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaics were connected through more than 200,000 installations last year by the EDF subsidiary.

Plumbers see green, manufacturers in great danger

These numbers prove that the French do not avoid solar energy at all, on the contrary. One of the reasons is the increase in the price of electricity, which has exceeded 1,000 euros per megawatt hour (MWh), while in the years before the Russian invasion it was only 50 euros. An increase that has led to a strong influx of solar panels from many individuals and businesses to cover some of their electrical needs themselves.

In France, the transition was also aided by €9 billion in aid released by the state to enable the French to switch to self-consumption and achieve the targets set for 2050. Installers’ order books were mostly full for the month. On the other hand, the production ones are desperately empty, which worries the profession

European demand is indeed there, with the old continent even setting very ambitious new targets for the development of renewable energies. But European sectors are no longer there, like the latest German solar panel maker Meyer Burger, which has just announced the move of its production to the United States.

The French situation is therefore not an isolated case, as all European companies are at risk. Managers of one of the two solar panel manufacturers in France, Systo, have brought this situation, which they consider extremely worrying, to the attention of the public authorities.

The Chinese wave is rolling through Europe

But while the French in France are increasingly sensitive to solar energy, how to explain such a phenomenon? “The European collapse comes from the fact that China holds practically 80% of the market with prices that defy all competition,” analyzes Philippe Charlez. He’s stalking. “This means that if large companies install solar panels today, they will not be European. They will come from China or Vietnam. South-East Asia has strongly embarked on the green industry,” explains the specialist from the Sapiens Institute.

The contestants are named Tongwei, JA, Longi, Jinko and another Trina. These Chinese manufacturers will produce more than 170 gigawatts of solar panels in 2023. The equivalent of three annual European markets. “What makes me not very optimistic about the future of green industry in Europe is that there is also a problem with raw materials, especially with metals,” continues Philippe Charlez.

To fight back, the European Union is adopting a set of protective rules, including the “net zero industry law”. This NZIA, modeled after numerous protectionist measures in place in the United States and China, should impose a European manufacturing share on solar panels and other power grid equipment. In France, the Ministry of Industry and Energy could decide on a “solar pact” in early April to encourage the purchase of European panels. Enough to save the sector?

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