SMA Solar Technology AG Chief Executive Officer Pierre-Pascal Urbon said speculation over possible anti-dumping fees for Chinese solar products in Europe is weighing on orders at the world’s biggest maker of inverters.
The insecurity over tariffs has unsettled investors in Europe, caused banks to tighten lending and led to the delay or cancellation of projects, Urbon said today in an interview. European solar installations may drop more than 45 percent to below 9 gigawatts in 2013, also on falling subsidies, he said.
“We believe that the non-European markets in the best case can compensate for the strong drop in European installations looking just at the volume, the gigawatts,” Urbon said. “Because of increased pricing pressure in the inverter segment, however, we expect the global market measured in euros to shrink by about 20 percent.”
The European Union is studying anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs on Chinese panels after U.S. duties came into force last year. China itself is planning tariffs on imports of polysilicon. SMA, a Niestetal-based supplier of inverters that convert power from photovoltaic panels for use in the grid, last month predicted a “tough year” for the solar industry and said it may lose money in 2013.
Germany, the world’s leading solar market last year with 7.6 gigawatts of installations, may shrink by as much as 50 percent in 2013, Urbon said.
Urbon said markets focusing on large-scale solar plants such as the U.S., Japan, China, South Africa and Australia can make up for lost volumes in Europe. In Germany, SMA plans to introduce an inverter with an integrated battery in the third quarter amid growing demand for solutions that facilitate self-consumption of solar power, Urbon said.
Urbon said he also sees “big sales potential in the mid-term” for inverters that can be combined with diesel generators powering off-grid industry plants such as mines in India and Australia.