EU snubs dying solar manufacturers as China poised to swallow market

By Victor Jack | 03/14/2024 07:04 AM EDT

The industry asked the European Commission for urgent help to keep factories open as layoffs begin.

BRUSSELS — Europe’s solar producers are hurtling toward extinction after the European Union hinted Tuesday that it wouldn’t bail out ailing manufacturers, according to a person familiar with closed-door talks — a move that puts thousands of jobs at risk and deals a blow to the bloc’s clean tech ambitions.

EU solar manufacturers have warned for months that they face an existential crisis with respect to China’s near-total dominance over global supply lines, which has caused a supply glut of dirt-cheap solar panels inside the bloc and left them unable to compete. In the coming week, companies are set to begin laying off the roughly 4,000 skilled workers in the sector.

But in a private meeting between the solar industry and the European Commission on Tuesday, the bloc’s competition officials said they wouldn’t change subsidy rules to support the industry without a strong push from the EU governments, according to the person familiar with the talks, who was granted anonymity to speak freely about confidential talks.


The development comes as Brussels scrambles to establish itself as a global player in clean technologies like hydrogen, batteries and wind power in a race against Beijing and Washington, two countries that have poured hundreds of billions of state subsidies into their green industries.