US: World's highest prices for Chinese modules

The United States has some of the most expensive PV modules in the world, according to a new study by GTM Research.

The report, Global PV Pricing Outlook 2015, highlights PV module prices across the solar industry’s major markets and found that regional PV module prices varied by as much as $0.16 per watt, with prices for Chinese produced Tier-1 modules in the United States averaging around $0.72 cents per watt in the fourth quarter of last year, and just $0.56 in in Chile — the least expensive module market tracked in the report.

Indeed, U.S. prices for leading Chinese modules were higher than those of any other market tracked in the GTM Research report. The study found that the ongoing trade case against Chinese and Taiwanese-made modules had driven up U.S. prices on a year-over-year basis.

Regional price variation of Chinese modules in Q4 2014

"Regional price disparity grew in 2014, with the U.S. ranking as the highest-priced market for Tier-1 Chinese manufacturers," said Jade Jones, GTM Research solar analyst and the report’s author.

Jones stressed, however, that although the U.S. was the highest-priced market by the end of the year, it was also one of the lowest-margin markets for suppliers, contrasting with 2013, when Japan and Europe were the highest-priced and highest-margin markets.

In Chile, South America’s current leader in total PV capacity, utility-scale projects and a lack of tariffs kept module prices at around $0.56/W in the quarter.

Jones noted that in addition to regional tariffs, other factors that impacted price diversity last year included currency depreciation, downstream demand (mostly in China), missing expectations and increasingly competitive pricing behaviors. Leading suppliers offset this price variance through regionally diverse shipment portfolios, Jones added.

GTM Research expects regional prices to fall in 2015, noting U.S. prices will likely take the biggest plunge, falling 10% between the first and second half of 2015 and reaching $0.65 per watt by the end of 2015.