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Asia Report: Decision on Trade Dispute Looming

The solar trade dispute between China and the United States is expected to come to a head this month, albeit a few weeks later than expected.

The U.S. Department of Commerce is now expected to issue its preliminary countervailing duty determination on March 19, about two weeks later than expected. The decision is expected to come down as many solar players meet up in San Jose, Calif., for the PV America West conference and exhibition March 19-21. (If you remember, the original trade complaint was filed in October as the solar community descended upon the Dallas Convention Center for Solar Power International.)

The news also comes as both sides continue to arm the solar community with new data ahead of the ruling. Last week, the SolarWorld-led Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing released a report that found that America’s recent solar trade surplus with China is now running at a deficit.

Meanwhile, others in the industry are pointing to a Customs and Border Protection’s Port Import Export Reporting Services (PIERS) report they say shows that America’s surge of imports during the fourth quarter of 2011 was because of the scheduled end of the Section 1603 Treasury Department grant. According to the agency’s findings, many manufacturers with operations outside of China sent an increasing number of panels into the U.S. between the third and fourth quarters. This is an important aspect because the DOC will be working to determine whether Chinese imports surged to get ahead of potential new tariffs. If so, duties could be imposed retroactively. However, the end of the 1603 program could make it difficult for the DOC to determine that the tariffs were the cause of the surge.


IN THE NEWS

New Tariff on Way in Japan: In Japan, a new feed-in tariff designed to boost industrial use of renewable energy will come into force this summer, with the government likely to recommend Tuesday rates that utilities should pay for renewable energy-sourced electricity and periods during which they should buy it.

Chinese Modules Dominate Latest Numbers: Chinese suppliers still sit atop the list of solar photovoltaic module shipments in 2011, though Jinko Solar is making a strong push to keep up with the others.

The PV Landscape: The latest quarterly financial updates now coming in provide a clearer view of the solar PV supplier landscape, who's doing better and why (or why not). Here's what the top Chinese PV module suppliers are saying, and what the analysts are taking away.

South Korea to Build Massive Wind Project: How much wind power can you get for $9 billion? According to South Korea, about 2.5 gigawatts, or 71 percent of the total offshore capacity available today.

Plans for Two Geothermal Plants in Indonesia: Japan-based Sumitomo Corporation will team up with International Power GDF Suez and PT Supreme Energy to build two geothermal power plants in Muaralaboh in West Sumatra and Rajabasa in Lampung.

Japan Group Buys Oerlikon Solar: The Oerlikon Group has agreed the terms of a divestment of its Solar Segment to a leading global supplier of semiconductor production equipment, Tokyo Electron Limited of Japan.


A DEEPER LOOK

Yingli Expansion: Despite continued difficulty in the global market, Yingli plans for a 750-MW expansion to its manufacturing capacity.

China Looks to U.S. Power Producers: State Grid Corp of China has had talks with U.S. power firm AES Corp about taking a controlling stake in its U.S. wind power business, as China's cash-flush state-owned power companies go on an overseas buying spree.

China Says Dam Not Affecting Flow to China: Claiming that its hydropower project on Brahmaputra river in Tibet was not obstructing the water flow to India, China said its dam was "not big" enough to affect the lower riparian regions.

China Gears Up for Biofuel: China is expected to use 12 million metric tons of aviation biofuel a year by 2020, about 30 percent of projected total jet fuel consumption by that time, Civil Aviation Administration of China Deputy Director Li Jian said.

Is Hot Market Too Hot?: First Solar, a major supplier of cadmium telluride-based thin-film photovoltaic modules to India, has said its products have a higher failure rate than expected in hot climates.

Slowdown in Japan Wind Projects: Wind power installation in Japan has been slowing down. According to a survey conducted by Japan Wind Power Association, the estimated capacity of wind power newly installed in fiscal 2011 was 82 MW, dropping down to less than one-third of the newly installed capacity in fiscal 2010. It is speculated that this trend has been caused by postponed wind power businesses waiting for the implementation of renewable energy feed-in-tariff system, which is scheduled in July this year.


QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Paper-Like Solar Cell

"The battery is made of one layer of solar cells, so there is no need for a circuit board. This makes the battery even more flexible, meaning it is detachable and can be formed into curvy shapes. It can also be applied in fabrics."
Lee Dong-yoon, Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute


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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Feb. 20-27, 2012 Asia Report: China Launches Renewable Energy Think Tank
Feb 6-13, 2012 Asia Report: India Sees 52 Percent Rise in Investments
Jan. 23-30, 2012 Asia Report: DOC Extends Solar Trade Case Deadline
Jan. 16-23, 2012 Asia Report: China Has Strong Words Over U.S. Wind Investigation
Jan. 9-16, 2012 Asia Report: China, South Korea Leaders at World Energy Summit
Jan. 2-9, 2012 Asia Report: SolarWorld Plans to File European Complaint
Dec. 26, 2011 to Jan. 2, 2012 Asia Report: Wind Tower Trade Case Sparks New Questions

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