WORLDNEWS Module production moves to Asia
PRICING pressure for solar modules will result in a growing share of production taking place in Asia as suppliers seek to drive down PV module manufacturing costs according to ongoing analysis from IMS Research, with over 70% of module production capacity located in Asia in the final quarter of 2010. Asia’s share is forecast to continue growing steadily throughout 2011 as manufacturing expansion in this region accelerates.
Booming demand throughout 2010 has resulted in high shipment growth and limited pricing pressure for the module industry. However, as the over-heating German market begins to show signs of cooling, PV suppliers across the entire supply chain are becoming increasingly focused on reducing their manufacturing costs.
Many suppliers have recently announced ambitious cost reduction plans, all of which have a common theme – an
increasing proportion of production taking place in Asia. REC recently announced that its fully automated Singapore based wafer, cell and module production lines will be capable of producing modules for $0.97/W by the end of 2011. Whilst Evergreen Solar plans to produce modules for $0.90/W by the end of 2012 at its Chinese facility - ambitious plans indeed given that its costs at its US plant were more than twice that in Q3’10, at $1.88/W.
China outspends for manufacturing
CHINESE companies are expected to lead the world in the expansion of solar cell and module manufacturing capacity in 2010, accounting for seven of the 10 biggest gainers in the industry, according to the market research firm iSuppli Corp. Collectively, the seven Chinese companies are set to expand their Photovoltaic (PV) cell and module manufacturing by 6.4 Gigawatts (GW) in 2010, representing 71.8 percent of the total 8.98GW increase among the Top 10.
“While European countries like Germany are leading the world in solar installations, China has built a dominant position in the manufacturing of cells and modules that are used in these systems,” said Greg Sheppard, chief research officer for iSuppli. “With Chinese cell and module manufacturers now engaged in a race to expand manufacturing, the country is certain to maintain and expand its dominant position.”
The biggest expansion will be undertaken by China’s LDK Solar Co. Ltd., which will add a total of 1.42GW worth of module and cell manufacturing in 2010. The
company will bring on 1.3GW of c-Si module capacity and 120 Megawatts (MW) of c-Si cell manufacturing capacity.
“LDK is adding enormous amounts of capacity as it tries to keep pace with fellow Chinese solar suppliers,” Sheppard observed.
No. 2 among the capacity adders will be Renewable Energy Corp. of Norway, with 1.09GW of new manufacturing. (see story above)
“REC is reinvigorating its cell and module business with a giant new campus in Singapore, causing its production capacity to rise,” Sheppard added.
In terms of c-Si cells, JA Solar of China is poised to lead in manufacturing expansion, with 700MW of the 1GW in total additions allocated for that technology. If the spending for ingots, wafers, polysilicon is added, iSuppli estimates the PV industry will spend approximately $11 billion on production equipment this year. The spending is being driven by the doubling of sales for
“It is essential that PV costs continue to decline in order for PV to become a more sustainable industry that is less reliant on subsidies, and seemingly inevitable that manufacturing will shift to Asia, much as it has done in almost every other high- volume electronics market.” commented PV Research Analyst, Sam Wilkinson. “Large Chinese manufacturers are currently leading the industry in crystalline PV module cost reduction and other Western suppliers are joining them, by moving their own production to Asia,” Wilkinson continued.
Of course, in transitioning its production to Asia in a bid for low-cost
manufacturing, the PV industry is simply following in the footsteps of every mature electronics market. Regardless, the move appears to be happening remarkably quickly and IMS Research predicts that before the end of 2011, over three- quarters of global PV module production will take place in Asia.
solar panels as well as pent-up demand induced by the slowing of capex in 2009.
For their part, thin-film companies have been relatively small spenders this year, as many in their ranks had plenty of manufacturing capacity to absorb. First Solar allowed efficiency improvements- rather than spending on new equipment- to drive capacity growth this year. Spending on thin-film capital equipment is slated to accelerate in 2011, assuming that companies follow through on announced plans.
Information in this release is taken from iSuppli’s new PV Manufacturing and Capital Spending Tool, which contains data on more than 550 companies, 10 major product categories, in excess of 40 technologies and nearly 1,000 locations. The tool is updated 10 times a year.
Issue IX 2010
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