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Solar manufacturers ship record volume in Q2

solar photovoltaic manufacturers

Record number of solar modules shippedThe world’s top solar manufacturers shipped a record number of modules in the second quarter of 2013.

The leading 20 solar photovoltaic manufacturers shipped 5.8 gigawatts of solar panels during the quarter, according to a press release from market analysis firm NPD Solarbuzz. That volume represents an impressive 21 percent increase over second quarter solar shipments in 2012. And it’s a whole gigawatt of solar PV panels beyond the year-ago record.

While the news logically means there will be more solar installed as a result of the increased deployment of panels, a closer look also reveals some interesting market indicators and trends, according to NPD Solarbuzz.

Chinese solar module manufacturers are expected to lead the market in volume with top-tier manufacturers Yingli Green Energy, Trina Solar, Jinko Solar, Renasola and Hanwa SolarOne breaking their quarterly shipment records, according to the release.

Yingli Green Energy, in particular, is expected to dominate. NPD predicts that the manufacturer will have shipped 0.8 gigawatts of solar PV modules in the second quarter of this year. That’s 16 percent of the all the solar modules sold by the top 20 manufacturers during the quarter and would represent a new world record for any single PV supplier.

“Yingli Green Energy has been strongly focused on market share gains over the past four quarters,” Ray Lian, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz, said in a statement. “The company is rapidly approaching 10 percent global market share, and has now become the clear leader in megawatt shipments. The leading solar PV suppliers are now starting to pull away from the pack, which provides strong evidence that the anticipated industry consolidation is finally in progress.”

NPD Solarbuzz did not discuss how other market factors, such as new regulations in Europe requiring Chinese solar manufacturers to charge a minimum price per watt for their products, could impact those record volumes.

Other analysts have theorized that the sales price requirements in Europe could hurt volume manufacturers like Yingli.

Other Chinese solar module manufacturers have been shifting their business models from volume and prioritizing profitability, according to NPD.

“In Japan, the highest growth PV end market today, Chinese tier-one manufacturers Canadian Solar and JA Solar have now become the leading overseas module suppliers,” according to the release.

Those companies are cultivating a strong business in Japan that could translate to continuing sales of higher-quality modules under Europe’s new pricing requirements.

Japan, however, remains a tough market for Chinese manufacturers, according to the NPD release.

“Buyers in Japan remain strongly loyal to Sharp Solar, Kyocera, Solar Frontier, Panasonic, and other domestic brands,” according to the release. “Over the past four quarters, these four suppliers have accounted for 54 percent of modules shipped by the 20 leading module suppliers to Japan.”

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