ReneSola sees "steady" improvement; targeting polysilicon costs of under $20/kg

11. May 2012 | Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends | By:  Becky Stuart

ReneSola Ltd has seen first quarter (Q1) 2012 financial improvements across the board, although it is still suffering significant losses. The company has released its wafer, module and polysilicon cost targets for the year.

ReneSola man checking photovoltaic solar cells

ReneSola predicts that its photovoltaic module costs will decrease to below $0.70/W in Q2 2012.

While the Chinese photovoltaic company experienced losses in Q1 2012, it has seen its financials improve on the previous quarter. Exceeding its guidance, net revenues hit US$211.5 million, up from $187.7 million in Q4 2011. They were down, however, from the $359.2 million seen in Q1 2011.

Despite suffering a Q1 2012 gross loss of $8 million and gross margin of negative 3.8 percent, the company fared well in comparison to Q4 2011, which saw a gross loss of $43.4 million and a gross margin of negative 23.1 percent in Q4 2011. Again, the figures paled in comparison to the gross profit of $101.2 million reaped in Q1 2011 and a gross margin of 28.2 percent. The Q1 2012 loss included a $12.2 million write-down for inventory, said the company.

Q1 2012 operating loss, meanwhile, was $37.8 million, with an operating margin of negative 17.9 percent. This compared to an operating loss of $52.7 million and an operating margin of negative 28.1 percent in Q4 2011, and an operating income of $75.6 million and a margin of 21 percent in Q1 2011.

Cost targets

Q1 2012 photovoltaic wafer and module shipments were 466 megawatts (MW), up from 339.9 MW in Q4 2011, and 330.4 MW in Q1 2011, thus exceeding the company’s previous guidance. Of this, modules accounted for 90.9 MW and wafers, 375.1 MW. ReneSola added that in Q1 2012, its total module manufacturing costs were around $0.74 per Watt (/W). It predicted that these will decrease to below $0.70/W in Q2 2012.

In terms of its wafers, the company said its blended non-silicon wafer processing cost was $0.19/W in Q1 2012. "Since the end of Q1 2012, blended non-silicon wafer processing cost has been reduced to US$0.18," it continued. By the end of Q2 2012, these costs should be reduced to  $0.17/W, and to $0.15/W by the end of the year.

Furthermore, the company’s polysilicon project is said to be "on track". In Q1 2012, it produced approximately 900 metric tons (MT). "While higher than expected [this] represented a decrease from approximately 1,089 MT in Q4 2011 as a result of upgrades and maintenance on the state-owned power grid connected to the company's polysilicon plant," explained ReneSola.

At the end of the first quarter, it had a polysilicon production capacity of 4,000 MT. It is targeting 10,000 MT through Phase II of its polysilicon production plant by the end of the year.

In terms of costs, they increased to roughly $33 per kilogram (/kg) in Q1 2012. However, it said that since the end of Q1 2012, costs have returned to around $30/kg. By the end of Q2 2012, they are predicted to decrease to approximately $25/kg, and to $22/kg by the end of 2012. "The company expects Phase II to have stand-alone polysilicon costs of under $20/kg," it added.

Looking ahead

In Q2 2012, ReneSola expects to ship between 150 and 170 MW of modules, of which 55 MW are expected to be its Virtus modules. "At present, the company's module manufacturing has reached its maximum capacity as a result of strong sales generated by its new regional sales teams." Furthermore, it expects to ship 460 to 480 MW of wafers. For the full year 2012, it expects to ship a total of between 1.8 to two gigawatts of both photovoltaic modules and wafers.

"We continue to navigate what remains a challenging and substantially oversupplied global solar market by aggressively managing our costs," commented CEO Xianshou Li. "At the same time, however, we have seen steady improvement in our module sales and have built up a backlog of orders, which we are confident will continue to increase. "


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