Trina Solar CEO Declares German Rival Dead

Key Speakers At The Boao Forum For Asia
Goa Jifan, CEO of China’s Trina Solar. Picture Source: Bloomberg

European anti-dumping measures against solar companies are unfair, and have failed in their efforts to keep companies like Germany’s largest solar-panel manufacturer Solarworld afloat, according to Goa Jifan, chief executive of China’s Trina Solar.

“Solarworld is a company with no competitiveness,” Mr. Gao said in an exclusive interview with Handelsblatt. “It has to drop out of the market sooner or later, and it will. You cannot rely on government protectionism or subsidies forever. Solarworld will die, the only question is when. We don’t even care about it anymore.”

Along with other Chinese manufacturers, Trina Solar, the world’s largest maker of solar panels, has taken advantage of economies of scale in Asia to challenge Solarworld’s market position, offering panels on the European market for a cheaper price.

“What the E.U. is doing is clearly protectionism.”

Gao Jifan, CEO, Trina Solar

Competition from China has hit Solarworld hard, which faces higher costs because it runs its entire supply chain, from the procurement of raw materials to manufacturing solar modules, packaging and sales.

Once the world’s second-largest manufacturer of solar modules, Solarworld has fallen to 15th place over the years, with its production capacity now a fourth of Trina Solar’s. The Bonn-based company spends €40 million more than it brings in and has teetered on the brink of collapse for years.

Solarworld, however, successfully lobbied the European Commission to extend anti-dumping measures against companies such as Trina Solar for another 18 months. Brussels has set minimum prices to protect companies such as Solarworld from cheap competition. Mr. Gao belives these minimums are too high.

“What the E.U. is doing is clearly protectionism,” Mr. Gao said, adding that such anti-dumping measures only hurt European consumers and slow Europe’s progress toward ending subsidies for the development of solar energy.

“We brought benefits to European customers by improving quality and lowering costs in this competition,” Mr. Gao said. “We help European governments and European customers. The E.U. should thank us. Only uncompetitive companies like Solarworld blame us.”

Mr. Gao acknowledged that the Chinese government still supports some solar-panel manufacturers with subsidies, but said Beijing has emphasized the market should ultimately prevail.

“You have to look at the big picture,” he said. “The market will succeed eventually. Only successful companies will survive, others will go bankrupt. That is a natural development.


Read the full interview in Wednesday’s Handelsblatt Global.

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