China joins solar trade war with potential action against US manufacturers

China joins solar trade war with potential action against US manufacturersFirst, CASM (Coalition of American Solar Manufacturers) lashed out against alleged Chinese PV dumping practices in the U.S. Then CASE (Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy) responded that CASM’s practices amounted to protectionism. Now CPIA (China Photovoltaic Industry Alliance) has entered into what’s shaping up to be an ugly wrestling match over the costs of solar—alleging that the U.S. is dumping polysilicon in China.

CPIA is preparing an anti-dumping and subsidy complaint for China’s Ministry of commerce, according to China Daily. The organization is alleging that countries—led by the U.S.—dumped 47,500 tons of polysilicon in China in 2010. That the amount was 20,000 tons more than in 2009, Gao Hongling, deputy secretary general of CPIA, told the newspaper.

“Protectionist policies are not good for anyone, and we say that noting the reaction in China,” said SunEdison Senior Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs Kevin Lapidus, speaking on behalf of CASE. “SolarWorld’s protectionist trade practice is not helpful to the U.S. solar industry and the global solar industry.”

Ultimately both trade actions could negatively impact U.S. companies. The CASM complaints could raise the cost of solar in the U.S. in 2012. That could make the cost of planned projects unfeasible, Lapidus said.

The U.S. solar industry was expected to add 30,000 jobs and install between $12 billion and $13 billion of projects in 2012.

“And it’s now at risk because of a trade case by one company,” Lapidus said.

If the preliminary results of the anti-trade case are successful, prices could be impacted by as early as March 2012 and even if the early results are overturned in October, the raised prices will already have hurt the industry’s growth for the year.

Since the reports of a CPIA action are preliminary, Lapidus—who also represents SunEdison parent and polysilicon manufacturer, MEMC—said it’s not clear if the company would be involved in the CPIA complaint.

“We disagree with the claims that are being made,” he said. “The U.S. exported $2.5 billion in polysilicon in 2010.” If that business is impacted it could have a negative impact on U.S. polysilicon manufacturers.