Chinese suppliers solidify module dominance, finds IHS


Research from IHS’ PV Integrated Market Tracker – Q1 2014 report has revealed that the world’s leading solar module suppliers extended their dominance of the market in 2013, with Chinese companies once again leading the pack.

Of the world’s top ten solar PV module suppliers last year, seven had their headquarters or bulk of their manufacturing operations in China, with Yingli Green Energy shipping 3.25 GW of solar modules in 2013, topping the charts. Following was Trina Solar, Canadian Solar, Sharp and Jinko Solar, according to IHS’ examination of 150 PV component manufacturers.

"The year 2013 marked the turnaround of global PV markets and the recovery of leading players in the PV industry," said IHS analyst for the solar supply chain, Jessica Jin. "Chinese and Japanese PV module suppliers benefited from the surge in demand in their markets, with China in particular accounting for more than a quarter of global installations in 2013 and becoming the leading region in the process."

Top table solidification

Growth at the sharp end of the global PV market extended by 24% last year to reach 38.7 GW in total. Yet despite China’s continuing dominance, market share of Chinese companies remained the same as in 2012, suggesting a slight loosening of their grip on the market: down slightly from 59% in 2012 to 57% last year.

Among the top 15 module suppliers, shipment share grew to 59% of the market – up from 51% in 2012 – with Japanese suppliers enjoying the most prominent rise, accounting for 17% of all global installations in 2013. Each of Japan’s three largest suppliers climbed by several positions last year, led by Kyocera – which doubled its output in 2013 – and Solar Frontier, which grew by 60%.

Solar module companies from Europe accounted for 13% of the global market share last year, which is roughly the same share as 2011 and 2012, while suppliers from the U.S. experienced a slight dip in exposure to global markets, shrinking from 13% in 2011 to 9% last year.

Looking ahead for the remainder of 2014, the IHS report suggests a positive outlook for the sector, boosted by a more balanced supply/demand relationship. Global installations are expected to tilt eastwards towards Asia, with China’s major suppliers set to reinvigorate efforts to add more manufacturing capacity, seek greater collaboration with OEM partners, and invest in the acquisition and upgrade of greater facilities. According to IHS, each of JA Solar, Trina Solar and Yingli will pursue the extension of manufacturing capacity significantly in 2014.

"Although the industry is witnessing a long-term trend to more recognized PV production, the current installation boom in China and Japan is triggering capacity expansion, predominantly in China," added IHS principal analyst for solar, Stefan de Haan. "The combined market share of the Chinese module suppliers will go up again this year – a nice recovery since flattening during the years of the solar eclipse," he said.