The good times are back for solar


It’s official, the good times are back for solar. At least, they are according to global analyst IHS.

In a press release on Friday announcing the publication of the Q3 edition of the IHS Solar PV Integrated Market Tracker report, Stefan de Haan, IHS’ principal solar analyst said: "As we had anticipated at the end of last year, the second quarter of 2013 marked the turnaround of global module markets."

But before popping the champagne corks, the analyst added the encouraging growth driven by China and Japan from April to July is expected to settle down in the current quarter.

De Haan predicted growth will be flat for July to September and will then show ‘modest’ increases in the last three months of the year.

The IHS report showed Chinese giant Yingli tightening its grip on the global module supply market with fellow Chinese manufacturers Jinko Solar and Renesola also advancing at a rate of knots allowing the former to post its first quarterly net profit since September 2011.

Japanese module suppliers were lifted by the Abenomics factor – named after prime minister Shinzo Abe’s public spending program – as U.S. and European manufacturers again slipped back.

Yingli shipped 1.45 GW of modules from January to July, a rise of almost a third on the first half of last year to expand its market share from 7.3 per cent to 8.1 per cent with IHS solar analyst Jessica Jin noting almost a third of the company’s business comes from China and predicting that domestic sales percentage will continue to rise.

The Chinese demand being driven by the government of the People’s Republic saw Yingli ship 39 per cent more modules than nearest rival, Trina Solar.

For the same period of 2012, Yingli had shipped 27 per cent more modules than number two First Solar.

Jinko Solar banks on low production costs

If Chinese companies Yingli and Trina Solar top the table, Jinko Solar saw its market share almost double from 1.9 per cent to 3.7 per cent thanks to a downstream focus, strong domestic pipeline and, according to IHS, ‘remarkably low’ production costs.

Meanwhile fellow Chinese concern Renesola cannot make and ship panels fast enough as the fastest growing module supplier of the lot. Renesola tripled its market share to 3.2 per cent with Jin noting it has already sold out its 2013 capacity and has started pre-selling for next year.

With the Chinese government fostering an explosion in domestic solar demand, a similar generous-FiT-driven ploy in Japan has bolstered the fortunes of Japanese module suppliers.

The nation’s top supplier Sharp saw its global market share jump from 2.7 per cent to 4.5 per cent to see it place fourth worldwide in the IHS module supply rankings and Japanese number two Kyocera increased its share from 2.1 to 3.6 per cent.

Japanese number three Solar Frontier enjoyed an Abenomics revenue boost of 68 per cent to lift it from 14th place to 11th in the IHS table.

It was a different story for Western suppliers with U.S.-based First Solar ceding second position worldwide to Trina after its market share fell from 5.7 to 5 per cent, year-on-year.

SunPower enjoyed a 14 per cent rise in shipments but that growth was smaller than the overall market average of 17 per cent and Norwegian-headquartered REC, which manufactures its panels Statesside, slipped from ninth to 13th in the IHS module supply table with only its crown as the largest ‘European’ module supplier for consolation.