Chinese Solar PV Module Suppliers Dominate Market Again

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Chinese solar photovoltaic (PV) module suppliers have found themselves in the proverbial-hot water over the last year, running afoul of recently implemented US trade regulations and policies and similar policies in a number of European countries. Backed by China’s massive manufacturing capabilities, export quantities have driven down home-grown manufacturing costs, forcing a number of countries to act to prop-up their own manufacturing industries.

However, these roadblocks don’t seem to have hindered China’s solar PV module shipments, according to the latest NPD Solarbuzz Module Tracker Quarterly report.

NPD Solarbuzz figures show that Chinese companies shipping solar PV solar modules managed a 26% quarter-over-quarter increase in the second quarter of 2014, up from 5.2 GW of solar modules shipped in Q1’14.

“Chinese solar module suppliers dominate the global top 20 supply group, and the amount of solar modules shipped by them last quarter was the highest quarterly level ever reached,” said Ray Lian, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz.

In fact, Chinese suppliers made up 71% of all PV module shipments from the top 20 suppliers, with leading Chinese module suppliers Trina Solar, Canadian Solar, Jinko Solar, and JA Solar all expected to report record shipments for Q2’14.

module shipments q214
Shipments by Region for Leading Chinese PV Suppliers in Q2’14 Image Credit: NPD Solarbuzz Module Tracker Quarterly report

The first quarter of 2014 saw Sharp Solar return to the top of the pile after a five year absence, the first time that a non-Chinese module supplier took the leading position in the solar PV industry since the fourth quarter of 2009. The Japanese market as a whole suffered from seasonal weakness in the Japanese end-market, with Sharp Solar dropping by more than 50% during Q2’14.

China has had to work hard to minimize the impact of various trade barriers imposed by trading partners, NPD Solarbuzz reporting that many companies have decided to outsource supply from overseas.

“Renesola’s outsourcing strategy has made it the leading market supplier to Europe, Australia, and India, during the past 12 months,” added Lian. “Another Chinese supplier, Canadian Solar, also expanded its module facility in Canada, while increasing shipments to its own downstream projects and to Japan, where Canadian Solar’s brand awareness has recently improved.”

A year ago China began to expand its presence into places such as Africa in the face of anti-dumping duties being implemented by European trading partners. A year later, the same thing is happening in the United States. China reportedly managed to secure more than 1 GW of module shipments during Q2’14 ahead of the preliminary trade announcement from the US Department of Commerce, but NPD Solarbuzz believes that China must be doing something right if it is managing to hold onto such a strong position.

“This growth comes at a time when trade disputes are creating obstacles for Chinese solar suppliers, which suggests that strategies to address the regional markets are being successfully implemented,” said Lian.

”Leading Chinese solar module suppliers continue to have opportunities to increase shipment volumes. With their domestic market in China forecast to exceed 10 GW in 2H’14, different supply strategies are likely to emerge to address local and overseas markets.”

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Joshua S Hill

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