The European Commission is opening an investigation into Chinese wind-turbine suppliers operating in Spain, Greece, France, Romania and Bulgaria, competition chief Margarethe Vestager said on Tuesday.

“We are launching a new inquiry into Chinese suppliers of wind turbines. We are investigating the conditions for the development of wind parks in Spain, in Greece, in France, in Romania and in Bulgaria,” Vestager told an audience in Princeton in the US state of New Jersey.

The investigations concern suspicions that some operators may benefit from an unfair competitive advantage due to foreign subsidies, a commission spokeswoman told dpa.

“Based on information available to the commission, there are indications that certain wind manufacturers and other companies active in the internal market may benefit from foreign subsidies which grant them an unfair advantage over their competitors and which may lead to distortions of competition,” the spokeswoman said in an e-mail.

The spokeswoman said the commission is sending requests for information under the EU’s Foreign Subsidies Regulation. The move follows an existing commission plan to monitor foreign subsidies in the market for wind power, she said.

In her speech to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Vestager said: “China is for us simultaneously a partner in fighting climate change, an economic competitor, a systemic rival. And the last two dimensions are increasingly converging.”

Vestager said China’s “playbook” of subsidizing domestic solar panel suppliers and exporting excess capacity at low prices had resulted in fewer than 3% of solar panels installed in the EU being produced in Europe.

“We see this playbook now deployed across all clean tech areas, legacy semiconductors, and beyond, as China doubles down on a supply side support strategy, to address its economic downturn.”

Source: dpa (German press agency)