GUANGZHOU — China’s solar panel manufacturers, who dominate global sales with a two-thirds market share, are confronting growing trade and financial problems, a Chinese industry official acknowledged Tuesday, shortly before one of the largest companies, Trina Solar, announced weak results for the second quarter.
Chinese manufacturers ‘‘face challenges of decreasing margins, decreasing exports, lack of capital, protectionism, and an external environment that continues to deteriorate,’’ said Chen Huiqing, deputy director at the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products.
The US Commerce Department has imposed preliminary antidumping and antisubsidy tariffs on Chinese solar panels totaling over 33 percent, though they are subject to further review. A coalition of manufacturers in Europe has asked the European Union to impose antidumping tariffs, as well.
Chen, the lead speaker Tuesday at the Guangzhou International Solar Photovoltaic Exhibition, said representatives from the Chinese industry are in Brussels to persuade European officials not to start a trade investigation into Chinese solar panels.
Trina, one of the largest Chinese solar manufacturers, said it lost $92.1 million on sales of $346.1 million in the second quarter. Ferocious price wars eroded the industry’s overall revenue, even as volume of solar module shipments continued to increase.
But the value of Chinese solar panel exports dropped 30 percent in the first six months of this year, compared to the period last year, as prices fell.
Bankruptcies of solar manufacturers in the United States and Germany have created political pressure for action against China, where the government has made it a national priority to expand renewable-energy manufacturing capacity.
As solar panel factories continue to open in China, the industry’s surplus capacity increases, along with downward pressure on prices, said Yotam Ariel, managing director of Bennu Solar, a research firm in Shanghai.
“Everyone talks about the struggle of the US producers, but it seems like the Chinese producers are in a struggle of their own,’’ he said.
The Chinese Commerce Ministry has complained repeatedly that renewable energy programs by five state governments in the United States discriminate against imports from China, but has not said whether it might file a challenge at the World Trade Organization. The ministry is also investigating a complaint from the Chinese industry that the United States is exporting polysilicon, the main ingredient for solar panels, at prices below manufacturing costs.
US companies contend their polysilicon prices are low because they rely on inexpensive hydroelectric power in Oregon, and energy is the biggest single cost in polysilicon production. Chinese polysilicon producers, the main beneficiaries if China restricts imports from the United States, rely heavily on coal-fired power and have a history of toxic chemical spills.
Solar panels are sometimes compared to batteries because it takes so much electricity to make the polysilicon that it can take up to two years for the panel to generate enough electricity to offset the power that went into its manufacture.