Media reports sometimes give the impression that the market for solar panels is flooded with Chinese products at the expense of European products - despite lower quality standards. This discredits the entire sector. However, this is not the entire truth. We will try to debunk some of the common assumptions on the current situation.
90% OF SOLAR PANELS COME FROM CHINA?
FALSE: China supplies about 50% of the world's output in solar panels, which remains a significant figure. However, Chinese production is specialized in large installations, and is not so present regarding the equipment intended for private individuals. In addition, in 2010, imports of Chinese panels accounted for only 23% of the market against 27% for Germany and 20% for France.
IMPORTING CHINESE PANELS ON DIFFERENT MARKETS AFFECTS EUROPEAN ACTORS IN THE SECTOR?
TRUE but to be commented : It is true that Chinese panels sold at low prices are twisting the European photovoltaic, this is reflected by the latest mishaps of Bosch and the possible closure of their factory in Venissieux. A survey has been opened by the European Commission on this subject ; the Chinese competition in the field of solar panels being considered unfair. But we must also take into account the crisis that has affected the sector and for which the Chinese have themselves paid the price. As an example, the Chinese leader in the field, Suntech, filed for bankruptcy last March. This is also due to the fact that barriers have been put in some European countries and the United States to prevent and control the Chinese surge in the photovoltaic market. In addition, if China currently dominates the manufacture of solar panels, the inverters, the wiring, the electrical protections, in short, the rest of the installation comes for 80% from the European market that dominates, for once, this segment of the sector.
BUYING CHINESE PANELS ALLOWS THE INSTALLATION PRICE TO BE CONSIDERABLY LOWER?
FALSE: While Chinese panels are cheaper for sale, it is important to consider that solar panels account for only 60% of the total cost of a large installation, a rate that can be as low as 40% - 45% for a built-in installation. Chinese panels are not a quick fix for a low-cost installation.
ARE CHINESE PANELS POOR QUALITY ONES?
FALSE: Numerous studies that have been conducted, show that the quality of the panels from China is quite suitable and even that they are very competitive in terms of performance. Therefore, don’t panic, just look closely at the panel brand before making your choice.