Nine of the top 10 PV module suppliers are forecast to achieve quarterly shipment growth, with six set to claim all-time shipment records, NPD Solarbuzz writes in its latest Module Tracker Quarterly report.
Furthermore, module pricing for the leading tier 1 Chinese suppliers stabilized for the third consecutive quarter at approximately $0.63 per watt, allowing gross margins to increase to 18%.
"During the third quarter of 2013, new solar PV module shipment records are likely to be reported by Yingli Green Energy, Trina Solar, Canadian Solar, First Solar, Jinko Solar and Renesola," said Ray Lian, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. "For the seventh consecutive quarter, Yingli Green Energy is forecast to post another solar PV industry record for quarterly module shipments, driving Yinglis twelve month shipments to 3 GW."
For the trailing twelve month period ending in the third quarter, Yingli, Trina and Canadian Solar occupied the top three global rankings for total megawatts shipped, with Jinko likely to grab the third ranking position from July to September. During the period, Chinese tier 1 suppliers held seven of the top ten module shipment ranking positions, with Renesola, Hanwha SolarOne and Hareon Solar completing the list of dominant Chinese suppliers.
The blended average selling price for the top 20 solar PV module suppliers during the third quarter showed a slight quarter over quarter decline to $0.74 per watt, compared to $0.75 per watt during the second quarter of the year.
This decline was driven mainly by the decreases in average selling prices in the Japanese market, where increased competition between domestic and foreign suppliers is beginning to erode the historic average selling price premiums available in the country.
The blended average selling prices for tier 1 Chinese module suppliers have now been flat, at approximately $0.63 per watt, for the first three quarters of 2013. Jinko continues to have the lowest blended costs across all tier 1 PV suppliers and is set to become the first to reach the landmark $0.50 per watt for silicon and non-silicon costs.
Within the non-Chinese tier 1 category, REC Solar emerged with the most cost competitive structure in the third quarter.
As a result of these cost reductions, blended gross margins for the top 20 solar PV module suppliers increased to 12.5% in the July to September period compared to 11.3% from April to June. Jinko and Renesola are now driving a select group of Chinese module suppliers exceeding gross margins above 18%, the report found.
The market share of the top 20 module suppliers remains above 70% across most countries. In China — the strongest end-market during the third quarter — the top 20 suppliers provided just 50% of solar PV modules. This was due to strong shipments from domestic tier 2 and tier 3 module producers that are choosing to focus now on the Chinese market, as opposed to shipping modules overseas, NPD Solarbuzz found.
In the US, First Solar continues to dominate module supply due to its strong pipeline of large-scale utility projects. Yingli, however, has now replaced SunPower as the second largest module supplier for the trailing twelve month period ending in the third quarter. Trina maintained its fourth ranked position, with Canadian Solar and Renesola completing the top six rankings.
"Over the next few quarters, additional cost reductions are expected to come mainly from efficiency gains, complementing the material cost reductions obtained over the past 18 months. And with global average selling prices likely to fluctuate within a relatively small range, several of the leading tier 1 Chinese module suppliers are poised to reclaim gross margins above 20%, which were last reported at the end of 2010," the report said.