17 May 2013 – The European Commission has proposed that its 27 member states should impose trade duties on solar panels imported from China. As a result, at the Global Solar Summit held in Milan during May 2013, a debate flared up on the trade disputes between Europe and China.

Reinhold Buttgereit, general secretary of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (Epia) says, “We cannot ignore the major trade conflict now underway but nor can we overlook the fact that the growth of renewables will increasingly be achieved outside Europe, driven by the Asian economies. The golden period for solar energy is not over, but we need rules.”

Milan Nitzsche, chairman of EU ProSun says, “China is burning up millions of euros in Europe and is destroying the best solar industry sector in the world due to price dumping.”  

But Paulette Vander Schueren, spokesperson for the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy (Afase), says, “We will be risking a fall of 85% in orders," explaining that the lowering of prices is part of the destiny of solar energy, a technology that is changing and being transformed with great rapidity.

This was also the view of Guangbin Sun, general secretary of the solar division for the Chinese chamber of commerce. “If exports from China are impeded, the consequences will fall on the costs of European products. Nevertheless, we are willing to collaborate and maintain a dialogue in order to bring our production in line with market demand."

The first session of the Global Solar Summit was devoted to presenting the development scenario for photovoltaic energy in the coming years.  According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), while the market in Italy and Europe has undergone a sharp slowdown in the total number of installations, 2013 is shaping up to be better than 2012 on the global scale thanks to the driving force of emerging markets like China, Japan and the USA. The forecasts point to a total of new installations representing more than 36 GW, against 30.6 GW in 2012. In 2014, the market should exceed 46 GW and it should be more than 53 GW the following year.