Taiwan's solar companies feel the strain in Q3

Taiwain’s leading solar cell makers have endured a difficult third quarter, with Gintech Energy, Motech Industries and Neo Solar each reporting losses as the trade dispute between the U.S. and China continues to affect the industry.

With the U.S. Department of Commerce poised to announce its final determination on anti-dumping (AD) and countervailing duties (CVD) on solar products from Taiwan and China midway through December, Taiwan’s leading players have begun seeking new international markets in the wake of seriously suppressed demand from China.

However, the damage from the trade dispute – which saw Chinese companies regularly use Taiwanese parts in an attempt to circumnavigate duties imposed by the U.S. (a loophole that has since been closed) – has had a negative effect on Q3 figures for Taiwan’s leading solar companies.

Neo Solar Power Corp. posted a Q3 net loss of $5 million, despite booking a net profit overall for the first nine months of the year. It was a similar story for Motech Industries, which posted a net loss of $24.2 million in Q3 – a revenue fall of 39% when compared to Q3 last year.

Gintech Energy, meanwhile, posted losses of $14 million during that period, with sales also flat for October, according to the company’s latest financial reports.

In October, figures from GTM Research revealed that Taiwanese solar cells were priced at $0.33/W, slightly more than Chinese solar cells at $0.32/W. However, most Taiwanese solar companies have very little room for price cuts, and so are having to explore new opportunities in markets in Europe, elsewhere in Asia, and South America.

"We’re all quite panicked and looking to international markets for growth," said the president of the Taiwan Photovoltaic Industry Association Gordon Chen in an interview with Reuters last month.

IHS’ Jessica Jin told pv magazine in November that the U.S. determination could well prove fatal to Taiwanese cell makers, which expanded their production capacity dramatically this year in order to cope with rising orders from China.

Since the loophole to supply to the U.S. market has been closed, however, demand has fallen sharply, with analysts estimating that Taiwan’s solar industry currently has a 1 GW-sized shortfall on its order books.