First Solar still ahead of the PV module pack

Although shipments of its cadmium telluride modules declined slightly over the previous quarter, it still exceeded of all of its crystalline rivals.

The research company said that the first quarter of 2010 was a record quarter once again for the PV module market, with shipments increasing by three percent over the previous quarter, marking four quarters of consecutive growth. Most suppliers are now fully utilizing their ever-expanding production capacities to fulfill soaring demand and Q2’10 is forecast to continue this trend.

The battle of the major Chinese crystalline players continues, said IMS research, with five of the top seven suppliers being large Chinese pure-play solar companies. Although Trina Solar shipped more modules than Yingli Solar for the first time, the quarter was far from unsuccessful for Yingli which enjoyed increased ASPs and an impressive gross margin of 33 percent.

“After a year of plummeting prices, Yingli Solar was able to increase its average selling price during Q1’10,” commented Sam Wilkinson, research analyst with IMS Research’s PV Group. “However, whilst its average price increased almost nine percent over Q4’09 measured in Euros, where it continues to ship the majority of its modules, the devaluation of the Euro meant it only realized a two percent increase in Renminbi.”

The future of the Euro remains an "ongoing concern" for many Asian suppliers, with a further squeeze in margins likely in the second half of 2010.