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 all solar panels are from China?
FALSE: China provides about 50% of the world's solar panel production, which is still a significant figure. However, Chinese production is specialized in large installations, and is not present in equipment for private individuals at this point. In addition, in 2010, Chinese panel imports represented only 23% of the market compared to 27% for Germany and 20% for France.
The import of Chinese panels on the various markets is hurting European players in the sector?
TRUE but not qualified: It is true that Chinese panels sold at low prices are damaging to European photovoltaics, as evidenced by Bosch's latest adventures and the possible closure of their plant in Venissieux. An investigation has been opened by the European Commission on this subject, with Chinese competition in the field of solar panels being considered as deluxe. But it is also necessary to take into account the crisis that has affected the sector and of which the Chinese have themselves borne the brunt. For example, the Chinese leader in the field, Suntech, submitted the balance sheet last March. This is also due to the fact that barriers have been put in some European countries and in the United States to stem this Chinese surge on the photovoltaic market. In addition, if China dominates for the moment in the manufacture of solar panels, inverters, cabling, electrical protection, in short, the rest of the installation comes from the European market which dominates, for the moment, this segment of the sector.
Buying Chinese panels allows you to considerably reduce the price of your installation?
FALSE: Certainly, Chinese panels are cheaper to buy, but it is important to consider that solar panels account for only 60% of the total cost of a large installation, a rate that can drop to 40-45% for an installation directly integrated into the building. Chinese panels are therefore not the panacea for a low-cost installation.
Are Chinese panels of poor quality?
FALSE: Numerous studies have been conducted that show that the quality of panels from China is quite adequate and even that they are very competitive in terms of performance. Also, nothing to worry about, just look carefully at the brand of your panel before making your choice.