Chinese module prices in US may increase 20%

Prices for Chinese solar PV modules delivered to the U.S. could rise by as much as 20 percent by the end of 2014 due to supply constraints, rising input costs and the ongoing U.S.-China solar trade case, according to GTM Research’s new report on solar pricing, Global PV Pricing Outlook: Q2 2014.

"Prices for modules produced by Chinese suppliers have historically been significantly lower than those manufactured in other regions," said report author Jade Jones, GTM Research Solar Analyst. "By the end of 2014, however, this may not be the case. Already, Chinese firms are quoting module pricing in excess of 80 cents per watt for delivery in the second half of 2014, compared to levels of 70 cents per watt at the end of 2013."

The ongoing U.S.-China trade case, which has already led to import duties on China-produced solar cells, is the primary driver behind the likely price increases, according to Jones. Further duties on modules assembled in China as well as Taiwanese solar components would push up U.S. pricing beyond current levels, as Chinese firms pass tariff-induced penalties onto customers or resort to contracting out cell and module production to OEM vendors based in higher-cost regions such as India, South Korea and Malaysia, the report adds.

With Chinese suppliers shipping almost 3 GW of modules into the U.S. in 2013, this development could result in significantly higher solar costs for U.S.-based developers and their customers.

The report’s additional findings include:

  • Global polysilicon spot pricing increased 15 percent quarter over quarter to $21.20 per kilogram at the end of Q1 2014.
  • GTMÂ’s Q4 2014 base-case forecast estimates polysilicon prices reaching $24 per kilogram and wafer prices 26 cents per watt.
  • Current Tier-1 Chinese module pricing across the globe ranges from 56 cents per watt in Chile to 80 cents per watt in the EU
  • Pricing for Japanese modules in the Japanese residential market is still as high as $1.50 per watt, but has fallen below $1 per watt in the commercial segment.

The report, which assesses short and long-term pricing dynamics in PV polysilicon, wafers, cells and modules by region, supplier and technology, is part of a quarterly report series by GTM Research.