From pv magazine Germany.
Polish PV manufacturers including Bruk-Bet Solar and Easy Solar are discussing joint initiatives to support the national industry – with a ministerial spokesperson stating the Covid-19 crisis could offer an opportunity to regain market share from Chinese peers.
“Polish companies from the solar industry are planning a joint offensive,” said Ministry of Climate Change renewables industry representative Ireneusz Zyska, in a recent radio interview. “This should take the form of a consortium. The goal is to take advantage of opportunities where Chinese suppliers were unable to meet their obligations during the corona[virus] crisis.”
Settling on the nature of cooperation between companies which usually compete, however, could prove problematic.
Bogdan Szymański, chairman of the Association of the Polish Photovoltaic Industry, told pv magazine his organization is not responsible for the reported initiative.
Żabno-based Bruk-Bet Solar said the proposed collaboration is the brainchild of Grzegorz Wiśniewski, president of private research body the Institute for Renewable Energy. Wiśniewski has previously told Polish media China accounted for 68% of global solar module manufacture in 2017, 72% a year later and was due to claim a market share of around 75% last year. He has claimed China will fail to deliver 20-30% of the 100 GW worth of panels it committed to manufacture this year, with the implication being the Covid-19 pandemic would be to blame for the shortfall.
Wiśniewski has said Polish manufacturers only supplied a quarter of their domestic solar panel market last year, with Chinese products used in around 30% of PV projects, German modules in 25% and Vietnamese and Italian components reportedly supplying the balance. The analyst has said there is an opportunity for Polish producers to claim market share from Chinese, Vietnamese and Italian peers in the months ahead.
Bruk-Bet weighed into the debate by emphasizing how its own operations have suffered only minimal disruption during the public health crisis because it is not solely dependent on Chinese supply chains.
“The pandemic has extended the product delivery cycle and, as a result, significantly reduced the stock of PV product distributors in Poland, which [are] more than 70% dependent on manufacturing companies from China,” stated the company. “The deliveries of the Polish manufacturer Bruk-Bet Solar were not disrupted, due to the diversification of the supplier network in Europe and China as well as … tailor-made warehouse management. Undoubtedly, the closure of some seaports and, above all, the limitation on the number of flights has hampered logistics. However, this did not lead to a lack of continuity in production, which had increased rapidly at the beginning of March.”
Olsztyn-based manufacturer Corab is also showing signs of growth and has introduced three shift patterns to cater to rising demand for its solar panels.
Krzysztof Dorynek, who is responsible for the Polish market for Chinese solar manufacturer Znshine, said: “After the Chinese new year [January 25], there were longer interruptions in the production not only of solar modules but also of … other components. This led to delays in deliveries to Europe of up to two months. Now the situation is normal again, the factories are working [at] 70-100% [capacity]. However, it must be remembered that no factory produces everything that is necessary for the photovoltaic system, so that everything does not start immediately with the transport to Europe.”
Polish energy thintank Forum Energii pointed out gains for the nation’s renewables manufacturers could help ease the economic pain expected as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. Aleksandra Gawlikowska-Fyk, from the forum, said manufacturers, electricity network operators and the government should work together to maximize any benefits for the clean energy industry. With residential solar driving the Polish PV market, the forum has suggested extending the PLN1 billion (€220 million) Mój Prąd rebate program offered to home systems with a generation capacity of 2-10 kW.
Naysayers have poured cold water on the idea of Polish companies boosting their market share, however, by pointing out Chinese production bounced back quickly after the worst effects of the coronavirus in China.
By Aleksandra Fedorska and Tadeusz Rawa
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