Tariff on solar panels hurting growth, experts say

Friday, August 29, 2014

A 15% tariff on imports of solar panels into Mexico is limiting investment in the technology and stymying the industry's growth, according to sector experts.

No components used in the development of photovoltaic (PV) plants are currently manufactured in Mexico, meaning that the sector relies on imports of technology and the tariff will limit the development of PV projects, David Arelle, CEO of solar power firm Ilioss, told El Financiero newspaper.

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"It is contradictory that an energy reform has been created to encourage alternative energy generation and that, on the other hand, a tariff has been introduced that will limit it," he was quoted as saying.

Last December, Mexico's national solar energy association Anes published a communiqué stating it would be launching an appeal to the customs authority over the tariff.

Anes said that solar panels are now classified as direct generators because they incorporate diodes. However, the panel's transmission of electrical energy does not depend on the installation of the diodes.

In 2013 the European Union imposed tariffs on solar panels imported from China as an anti-dumping measure, with the US following suit earlier this year.

"More than 50% of investment in solar electricity generation is in solar panels, and if a 15% tariff is applied to them the project ceases to be affordable," Héctor Olea, president of Gauss Energía and of the Mexican association of photovoltaic energy Asolmex, was quoted as saying by the same newspaper.

He said there are currently 36 solar generation projects in the pipeline in Mexico for the next three years, with total investment of US$2.3bn.