Yingli module shipments rise 17% in 2014, hit 3.3 GW globally

Vertically integrated Chinese solar company Yingli Green Energy generated revenue of RMB 12,927.4 million ($2,083.5 million) in 2014, achieving a gross profit for the year of 53.4% on the back of soaring module shipments into the world’s leading solar markets.

Last year’s revenue actually came in slightly below that achieved in 2013 (which was RMB 13,418.1 million) due to a decline in revenues from the sale of PV systems caused by falling costs. However, the overall picture for the year was rosy, with profits hitting $360.7 million and losses down to just $34.7 million, equating to a negative 1.7% operating margin.

The fourth and final quarter of 2014 saw the company end the year strongly, with revenue of $555.5 million an increase on Q3, although slightly below Q4 revenue for 2013. Module shipments rose from 903. 4 MW in the third quarter of last year to 939.2 MW in Q4, well in line with Yingli’s previous guidance.

Profit for Q4 was RMB 578.7 million ($93.3 million), a notable year-on-year increase – in Q4 2013, profit hit RMB 451.7 million. Gross margin was 16.8% for the fourth quarter, with operating expenses way down year-on-year: in 2014, fourth quarter operating expenses were just RMB 778.7 million ($125.5 million), compared to RMB 1,045.9 million in Q4 2013.

Downstream development and outlook

Yingli’s efforts to increase its downstream portfolio took a huge step in 2014, the company ending the year with more than 1.6 GW of PV projects in the pipeline at different stages of development right across China.

There were 73.7 MW of PV modules shipped in China for its own PV projects, adding to the total number of 260.6 MW of modules shipped over the course of 2014 for use in Yingli-backed PV installations.

In 2015, downstream shipments are forecast to reach anywhere between 400 to 600 MW, with a similar amount of PV forecast to be connected to the Chinese grid by Yingli this year.

Looking ahead, the company expects to ship PV modules in the range of 3.6 GW to 3.9 GW globally, an increase of between 7.1% to 16% compared to 2014.

"We are pleased to conclude another solid year in 2014, with full year module shipments hitting a record high of 3.3 GW and full year gross margin increasing to 17.3% from 10.9% in 2013, which was mainly attributable to our continuous efforts to diversify our market presence, reduce manufacturing cost and improve our profitability," said Yingli Green Energy chairman and CEO Liansheng Miao.

Miao added that Yingli’s success continues to mirror the general growth of the global solar industry, with strong demand for its modules evident in its domestic market of China, as well as Japan, the U.S., Europe and other emerging markets.

China accounted for 37% of the company’s total module shipments in 2014, while demand from Japan grew 50%. "In the U.S.," Miao revealed, "we had a solid year, notwithstanding the uncertainty brought by the new trade case."

Europe continued to play an important role, the CEO said, while new and emerging markets – such as South Africa and Latin America – proved profitable for the company with 490 MW shipped to these markets, representing a 90% year-on-year increase. "Given our strong brand recognition and high-quality PV modules and services, we became the sole solar panel supplier for the largest solar power projects in Malaysia, Bolivia and Honduras," said Miao.

The CEO added that the company is encouraged by the news that China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) has increased the country’s official solar installation target to 17.8 GW for 2015, adding that Yingli is "well positioned to seize this great opportunity".