Energy Trend: PV manufacturers shifting focus to China

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A report published last week by the Energy Trend division of the Taipei City, Taiwan-based global market research group TrendForce says solar PV module shipments from the world’s top-tier manufacturers are increasingly shifting from Europe to Asia.

This, Energy Trend’s report says, is observed in two ways. Firstly, first-tier Chinese manufacturers have greatly lowered their shipments proportion to Europe. Secondly, Western manufacturers have also reduced shipments to Europe and focused increasingly on Japan. The report notes that the trend among Western companies is evident despite the fact that they were not affected by the recent anti-dumping and countervailing policies and that they are also in the process of re-adjusting their strategic plans.

Energy Trend’s report is based on its investigation regarding PV manufacturers’ total shipments and net sales in the first half year.

Specifically, the report shows that six of the seven top-tier PV manufacturers it tracked increased the proportion of Asia-Pacific shipments in the second quarter of 2013. These are Yingli, JA Solar, REC, SunPower, Trina Solar and ReneSola. Only Canadian Solar’s Asian-Pacific net sales fell from 57% in the first quarter to 52% in the second quarter; however, its sales performance in the second quarter was supported by increasing module sales to America by 20% compared to first quarter.

The report also suggests that net sales for U.S. manufacturers are declining. First Solar in particular has lost its leading position in net sales. Shipments to Japan, the report says, were better than expected for SunPower, which now ranks first in 2013 net sales. The company’s high-efficiency modules are meeting Japanese market demand and helping to cushion revenue drops. Western manufacturers that mainly focus on power plant projects, the report argues, didn’t have any advantages during the rising of the Asian markets, although future development is yet to be observed, it adds.

Energy Trend ranked SunPower the No. 1 PV manufacturer according to second-quarter net sales, followed by Yingli, First Solar, Trina, Canadian Solar, Renesola, Jinko, JA Solar, REC and Hanwha SolarOne.

The role of the Chinese policies

Energy Trend says that as a result of the EU-China trade dispute, "the Chinese government aggressively came up with many policies in July and August to support PV development and has been trying to stimulate Chinese market demand to digest excess production capacity." China hopes to achieve its 35 GW solar PV installations target by 2015.

Energy Trend’s projection for the fourth quarter is that the PV market will be dominated by China, Japan and the United States and that China will offer the greatest potential of all for PV development. Energy Trend concludes that "changes within the Chinese market are likely to impact the future development of many Chinese PV manufacturers, thus affecting global PV industry development."