Chinese PV exports to Europe fell 62% in 2013

Data published today by the China Chamber of Commerce for the Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products has revealed that PV cell and module exports to Europe fell by 62% last year in the wake of ongoing trade disputes.

The Chamber of Commerce revealed that export revenues to Europe in 2013 fell to just $3.7 billion, reflecting a wider trend in 2013 that saw total Chinese PV exports fall by 17.9% around the globe. In total, China generated $12.3 billion less in solar exports last year than in 2012 as anti-dumping probes in the EU and further investigations and sanctions in the U.S. impacted trade.

In contrast, sales to Asian markets soared to $5.5 billion, representing a 124% increase on 2012. Japan was China’s fastest-growing trading partner last year, accounting for almost 25% of all cell and module exports, while on the other side of the coin exports to Germany tumbled to record lows – just $507 million in PV trade between the two nations was recorded in 2013, a massive 75% decrease on 2012.

This information was relayed to audiences at the Intersolar China Conference by Chamber of Commerce secretary-general, Sun Guangbin. "Demand from Japan will remain robust in the coming years as the country faces a potential future without nuclear power and prices for liquefied natural gas remain high in Asia, creating demand for solar power products," said Guangbin.

"At the same time, we’re also looking at other emerging markets with very high potential, such as South Africa and India."

Domestic revival

Mirroring the stirring demand emanating from Japan, domestic PV fortunes were recorded for a number of Chinese companies, with Yingli Solar, Jinko Solar and Trina Solar all posting positive 2013 financial figures and solid starts to 2014.

However, the head of the China Renewable Energy Industry Association, Li Junfeng, warned that the loose ends of overcapacity that still exist in the industry need addressing, otherwise further – unwanted – trade and price disputes with Japan could sully the presently rosy relationship.

"China’s solar panel industry has just started to revive," said Junfeng. "We don’t want to see a new round of anti-dumping investigations or any trade disputes. But I’m very concerned about our solar companies rushing into Japan’s market to grab a piece of the new solar power pie, driving down prices and causing a breakdown of their own sector.

"We need to regulate and consolidate our own market to reduce excess capacity."

China is aiming to install an additional 14 GW of PV capacity this year, of which 6 GW will be utility-scale facilities and the remaining 8 GW coming from distributed generation.