Post: Somewhere in the sun: China takes over European energy

MOSCOW, February 22 – RIA Novosti, Natalia Dembinskaya. The EU claims to have eliminated its natural gas dependency on Russia. And the plans are to say goodbye to blue fuel altogether. Within seven years, the main source of energy on the continent should be the sun. In Beijing they rub their hands: demand for solar panels is growing in Europe and there is almost no local production – everything is imported from China.

closer to the sun

The successful completion of the winter season and the filling up of gas storage facilities arouse optimism among European politicians. While the budget is miserable due to a breakout with Russia, alternative acquisitions are costly – at least a trillion dollars in additional costs.

The consumption of Russian fuel in the EU will be reduced by 66 percent. They will completely eliminate hydrocarbons by 2027. The focus is on renewable energy, primarily solar.

Now this market is 80 percent controlled by the Chinese, who dominate the production of both solar panels and components.

Eight of the ten largest businesses in the industry in the world are Chinese. Only Canadian Solar (eighth) and American First Solar (tenth) are still at the top.

So the EU is totally dependent on China here. Last year, China’s solar panel exports to Europe increased by more than 140 percent, costing nearly 20 billion euros in equipment and components.

This is a result of increased demand for solar panels amid the energy crisis. After the price of electricity rose many times, it was actively bought by companies and the public.

not powers

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), only 2.8 percent of the panels are produced in Europe.

They are urgently starting their own projects in the EU. In particular, they hope to achieve enough volume to produce three gigawatts by mid-2024 at their Enel plant in Sicily. Now – only 200 megawatts.

If implemented, Enel will be the largest panel supplier on the continent. Europeans claim that their products are “more efficient and durable” so they can easily push the Chinese in the market. However, practice has shown that this is far from the case.

I can’t stand the competition

Chinese solar panels conquered the European market about a decade ago – they were much cheaper than their local counterparts. This worried Brussels. The European Commission has launched an anti-dumping and anti-subsidiary investigation.

The Chinese took similar measures against EU wine imports and threatened to take Europe’s luxury cars. As a result, in 2013 the parties signed an agreement on minimum prices for Chinese goods.

In Europe, the deal was called “surrender” and accused officials of failing to protect their industries.

So expanding the production of solar panels is not an easy task. Chinese businesses are supported by the state with subsidies and subsidies. They can afford aggressive dumping.

Chinese components

It’s not just a question of cost. Enel and other European companies require components from China where panel assembly is impossible. These are solar cells, silicon wafers and polysilicon.

For example, about 80 percent of wind turbine components come from China. 97 percent of silicon wafers for solar panels are also made here. China’s share is 45 percent in the supply of polysilicon, an important raw material for solar energy.

One of the largest polysilicon manufacturers is the German Wacker Chemie. However, the company ships most of the products for solar cells back to China.

China also takes the lead in other raw materials, including rare earth minerals used in renewable energy.

I’m connected

Europe is aware of the situation. Enel is trying to find partners in Europe and North America. Brussels wants to subsidize the construction of new factories and the expansion of existing ones. But there is no need to talk about energy independence.

“They no longer import oil and gas, but equipment. Of course, it’s okay to see solar power as the basis of energy security and strategic autonomy” – stated European Parliament research service experts.

China has all the means to not lose its share of the pie. For example, Beijing may limit exports of equipment for the production of silicon ingots and wafers, which are components of solar cells. This will greatly complicate the life of the West.

Meanwhile, the United States is making progress: in line with its disinflation law, authorities have offered companies large subsidies for solar power and green technologies. Europe cannot afford such generosity yet.

Source: Ria

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