Solar power is one of the key technologies of the 21st Century and it is giving rise to such levels of greed that the European Union and China are behaving like "Solar Warriors" headlines German daily Frankfurter Rundschau. The paper forecasts that this could be "the greatest trade conflict in history".

The dispute centres on the subsidies Beijing provides to the Chinese solar industry. The Europeans say these are unfair and excessive. Chinese manufacturers of photovoltaic technology thus benefit from several billion dollars in credit for which they do not have to provide significant collateral. Thanks to this cosy arrangement, the paper says, they —

…have managed, in just a few years, not only to catch up with the Europeans but to outstrip them. They now deliver the same quality goods but for 30% cheaper. [...] More than 80% of the modules installed in Europe today come from China.

Jolted by the failure of one of the industry's leaders, German firm Q-Cells, the Europeans are responding. Led by another German firm, SolarWorld, a European solar manufacturers' group, has filed a suit with the European Commission charging China with "price dumping". The complaint is being investigated and Brussels could decide to issue sanctions in the coming months. But, the paper points out —

...the effects will be enormous. With a 70% share, Europe is by far the largest market for photovoltaic technology. Faced with that, China is flexing its muscles and brandishing the threat of a suit against European producers of silicon, one of the components in solar cells.

The conflict does not end there. According to rumours, some Chinese representatives warned European auto manufacturers that a boycott on solar would have extremely negative consequences for them. This escalation worries Frankfurter Rundschau, which remarks

If China decides to be conciliatory and reins in its state-owned businesses, all can end well. In the worst case, a global trade war looms ahead.