Import of solar panels from China to the EU

Growing demand for solar panels in the EU led to the abolition of anti-dumping duties on photovoltaic (PV) modules from China in 2018. In addition, the value of their VAT has also been reduced. Since then, the interest of European importers in solar panels from China has also been growing, making the European Union their main market for this sector. We present everything you need to know about importing solar panels from China to the European Union.

China is considered a world leader in the solar panel industry and the largest manufacturer of such panels. According to the 2018 International Energy Agency (IEA) report, China exceeded the total capacity of EU facilities put into operation that year (China – 45 GW; EU – 8.3 GW), and the total production capacity of the facilities already in use (China – 176.1 GW). GW; EU – 115 GW). The report also shows that China is responsible for more than 65% of the global production of photovoltaic modules.

Solar panel production areas in China
Most of the factories that manufacture these modules are located in Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces. These are the most industrialized regions of the country, with the largest number of Chinese PV providers. Most of the top 10 companies in the world that produce solar panels come from China.

Import of solar panels from China – duty rates
Before starting the import from China, the customs fees of the selected products should be checked first. Tariff rates on goods imported into the European Union can be found in the TARIC system. Here is an example of customs duty rates on photovoltaic panels along with the applicable HS codes:

* Photosensitive semiconductor devices, including photovoltaic cells, whether or not assembled in modules or in panels; light-emitting diodes (LEDs) – 8541409000-0%
* Electrical transformers, static converters (for example, rectifiers) and inductors – 8504409090-0%

Both the tariffs and the fact that China is the world’s largest producer of solar panels make importing them from this country beneficial. As you can see, the tariff rates on solar panels imported from China to the EU are very low and in this case they are zero.

Requirements to import solar panels from China to the European Union
Although the majority of photovoltaic modules can be found in the Chinese offer, it should be remembered that they are manufactured for worldwide distribution. Therefore, they do not always meet the European requirements. This is why it is essential to familiarize yourself with current EU legislation before importing and to ensure that all components comply with it.

First of all, it is necessary to obtain the CE Marking and all the documents related to it. To place this mark on the panels, they must be subjected to tests that verify their conformity with all applicable requirements. After testing the product, the inspection company draws up a report. It allows to issue a CE certificate of conformity by the certification body. On the basis of these documents, the manufacturer has the right to issue a declaration of conformity and affix the CE mark to the solar panels. Testing is also required in terms of compliance with EN 1090-1. The standard refers to the introduction on the European market of a building structure made of steel or aluminum. Authorizes the manufacturer to issue a Declaration of Performance (DoP).

Range of tests for substructures for the construction of photovoltaic plants:

1. Classification of products in terms of shape and dimensions to comply with PN-EN 755-2: 2016
2. Classification of aluminum profiles in terms of durability according to EN 1999-1-1: 2011. The structure must comply with the minimum class B without a protective layer. It must be confirmed that it can be used in environments with a certain atmospheric corrosivity category according to EN ISO 12944-2: 2018-02.
3. Classification of steel elements in terms of anti-corrosion.
4. Connection resistance tests.
5. Testing a solar panel load together with the support structure.
6. Modules weight.

Factory production control (FCP)
The product can be approved for use in construction based on a harmonized technical specification (hEN) or the European Technical Assessment (ETA), which allow the affixing of the CE mark. Furthermore, according to EN 1090-1, it is also necessary to carry out an initial type test following point 6.2 of the specification. Therefore, solar panels must undergo Factory Production Control (FCP) relating to production in a factory in accordance with the relevant harmonized technical specifications.

The FCP certificate is issued only on the basis of the 2+ conformity assessment system. It enables the plant to manufacture products of specific performance classes, mark the products with the CE mark, and issue a Declaration of Performance (DoP).

China is the world’s largest solar panel manufacturer. Customs duties for photovoltaic modules in this country are very low. Therefore, importing them into the European Union can be very beneficial. However, it should be noted that such facilities must meet many EU market requirements. Remember that importers should check if there are other obligations regarding solar panels in the destination country in addition to the EU requirements.