Yingli claims No. 1 spot as leading module supplier, again

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Yingli Green Energy claimed the top spot last year as the world’s biggest supplier of solar modules for the second time in a row, according to market research firm IHS.

Overall in 2013, Yingli was the No. 1 producer in both China and Germany, second in the United States and ninth in Japan, IHS found. China bested the three countries as the largest solar market in the world in 2013.

In all, the four countries accounted for two-thirds of worldwide PV demand last year, according to the latest analysis from IHS Technology in its new report IHS Solar PV Integrated Market Tracker – Q4 2013.

"A strong footprint in each of the world’s leading PV markets was the basis for the phenomenal growth behind Yingli," said Stefan de Haan, principal analyst for photovoltaics at IHS.

The report added that "Yingli, based in the northeastern province of Hebei near Beijing, was a dazzling, high-output producer in three of those four markets.

Shipping more than 3 GW of solar modules last year, the Chinese maker expanded its share of the market to 8.3%, up from 7.4% in 2012, when it was already the world’s brightest solar player."

Ahead on the solar front, Yingli shines

In China, Yingli’s solar module shipments reached 625.3 MW from the first to the third quarter in 2013, ahead of other Chinese rivals like Trina Solar and Jinko Solar.

Yingli also led in Germany, long the world’s top PV market but ranked fourth last year. The company shipped an estimated 583.9 MW of solar modules, more than twice that of closest competitor Trina.

Chinese firms remain in Germany remain busy despite trade dispute

Although impacted in Germany by the anti-dumping trade conflict, Chinese solar suppliers remained continued to see significant activity in the market, with five out of the country’s top 10 suppliers based out of China and only two — SolarWorld and Conergy – local German companies.

In the U.S., the world’s No. 3 PV market, Yingli came in second after Arizona-based First Solar. Yingli’s total shipments of 479.8 MW represented just 70 MW short of First Solar’s delivery in the U.S. market, which grew more than 50% in 2013.

The only market where Yingli did not rank in top three was Japan, the world’s second-largest PV market, where Yingli came in ninth after homegrown producers like Sharp and Kyocera. “Foreign suppliers do not have an easy time entering the Japanese solar space, even though entry barriers there are not as high as in China," IHS said.

Yingli looks set to expand its market share around the world after announcing on Tuesday that it had obtained the Chinese government’s Certificate for Contracting Foreign Engineering Projects, which authorizes it to enter into contracts for large-scale PV engineering projects overseas. It also permits Yingli to dispatch workers internationally in order to fulfill such contracts.

"This certificate lays a foundation for us to pursue engineering contracts for PV plants in international markets," said Yingli Chairman and CEO Liansheng Miao.

Global PV robust and to remain healthy in 2014

IHS furthermore said in its report that solar markets worldwide continued their recovery after turning around in the first half of 2013 from a decline in 2012.

Driven by strong demand in Asia, global PV installations rose to 9.2 GW in the third quarter, up from 8.7 GW in the second, de Haan noted.

As a result, global solar module shipments rose to 10.1 GW during the period, an all-time high as shipments exceeded 10 GW in a single quarter for the first time ever. In the fourth quarter, global PV installations grew to 10.6 GW, with shipments rising to 10.3 GW.

While IHS expects further robust expansion in the global PV industry this year, likely at double-digit levels, it adds that some growth momentum could be lost during the course of the year as the Chinese and Japan markets experience decelerating growth following an installation boom in 2013.

"Such expected movements this year imply that the relatively healthy situation PV manufacturers experienced in the second half of 2013 will persist in 2014," de Haan observed. "However, IHS does not expect any further significant improvement in profits and margins at this time beyond the levels achieved in the last two quarters of last year."