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China launches EU solar investigation

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China has launched a trade investigation into solar panel ingredients imported from Europe.

There is an ongoing, bitter dispute between China and Western nations over renewable energy; solar technology being one of the main players in the global standoff. Polysilicon, an essential ingredient in solar panels, is a global market that generated $7.4 billion last year -- according to IHS iSuppli -- and is now at the forefront of the escalating argument.

Last month, the U.S. Commerce Department confirmed an earlier ruling that said Chinese firms were dumping solar cells at prices 18.32 percent to 249.96 percent below fair value. Not only this, but the Chinese government was offering producers and exporters "unfair" subsidies of 14.78 percent to 15.97 percent.

Due to this ruling, the department adjusted some tariffs imposed on Chinese manufacturers -- something the country has not taken lightly. In reprisal, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce has announced that a fresh investigation will cover both the allegations of solar cell dumping and the subsidies row.

It will cover the period from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012, and has been prompted by four complaints submitted by Chinese solar companies, according to The Financial Times.

China is one of the largest global consumers of solar-grade polysilicon and is also a top importer of machinery required to make solar panels.

Image credit: Lance Cheung

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— By on November 1, 2012, 1:06 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure