Is the US in a solar module oversupply situation in 2016?

Source: First Solar.

Recent shipment guidance from two leading members of the ‘Silicon Module Super League’ (SMSL), Trina Solar and JinkoSolar highlighted that the US solar PV market in 2016 was expected to show considerable growth but raised concerns over the possibility of a module oversupply situation when compiling a list of suppliers with their own US ambitions. 

The US PV market in 2016 has already been forecasted to be in the range of 12GW to 14GW in 2016, GTM has forecasted 13.5GW, up from 7.2GW in 2015. 

However, analysis by PV Tech of a number of SMSL members and other manufacturers (not a comprehensive list) with either shipment guidance or estimates by PV Tech, based on 2015 US shipment figures indicates more than 16GW of module shipments could be heading to the US this year. 

The six SMSL members alone are expected to ship as much as 8GW to the US in 2016. Add in domestic players such as SunPower and First Solar and shipments figures climb well above current end market forecasts. 

That aspect prompted PV Tech to take a closer look at the downstream US utility and utility-scale project pipelines for 2016 to indentify whether the forecasts were out of alignment with large-scale project projections. Residential and commercial markets were not expected to be bigger than expected to fill the gap.

Although not a comprehensive analysis it was clear that US utility and utility-scale project plans for 2016 were significantly higher than forecasts such as those recently given by the US Energy Information Administration that forecasted 9.5GWof US utility-scale deployments in 2016.

The planned shipment figures below therefore help confirm that the US solar market is heading for a significant increase in 2016, much more than previously expected and oversupply is highly unlikely. 

US PV module shipment guidance and estimates from key suppliers in 2016

Trina Solar               1.75GW – 2GW
Hanwha Q CELLS    1.5GW – 2GW
JinkoSolar               1.5GW+
First Solar               2GW+
SunPower               1GW – 1.4GW
SunEdison              1GW – 2GW
Canadian Solar        1GW – 1.5GW
JA Solar                 300MW - 600MW 
SolarWorld              600MW – 900MW
REC Solar              400MW – 550MW
Suniva/Suntech      300MW – 400MW
Solar Frontier         200MW – 350MW
Seraphim               100MW- 200MW
Yingli Green           200MW – 400MW
Mission Solar         100MW – 200MW
Silevo/SolarCity       20MW – 160MW
    Total: 10,470MW – 16,160MW

The analysis potentially indicates that more than 16GW of modules is needed to meet US market demand in 2016, potentially pulling in more shipments from Japanese and Korean firms and others that can avoid US anti-dumping duties. 

Tags: pv modules, smsl, usa, us