China figures not a surprise, says IHS analyst

Stefan de Haan, associate director for the solar supply chain at IHS, was speaking to pv magazine on the back of our article detailing how Yingli had predicted first quarter shipments would fall 30% between Q4 2013 and Q1 2014 while rival Trina Solar predicted its shipments for Q1 2014 to be nearly 20% lower than expected.

De Haan said, “It is no surprise that the material manufacturers have seen a very bad February. For example, the weak Q1 in the Chinese market is due to winter weather and the spring festival. Here, we have seen only 1.4 GW of installations out of 13 GW for the whole year. Since the middle and end of March, the Chinese producers have made production full operational again, and the modules will be needed.”

Both Yingli and Trina Solar had blamed the states of the markets in which they operate for the predicted falls. Yingli blamed delays in its Algerian projects and weak Chinese demand. Trina Solar, in turn, placed the blame on a temporary decrease in shipments to the EU.

Despite the falls, de Haan predicts that the price of cells should remain relatively stable. He said, “Based on our current forecasts, installation of 46 GW of cell price should yield slightly in 2014 of up to 5% over the year. But if the markets grow more to 50 GW, which is unlikely, the cell price could rise.”

Solar firms have suffered on the US stock markets since January with year-to-date falls of 18.22%, 9.06%, 6.52%, and 12.44% for Yingli, Sunpower, JinkoSolar, and Trina Solar.