The US International Trade Commission’s latest trade investigation into Chinese PV manufacturers may be setting off some alarm bells, but what is needed is a good dose of global manufacturing reality to calm things down, says Finlay Colville.
Based on existing company guidance and downstream channel checks - and supplemented by various estimates by company through to the end of 2013 - NPD Solarbuzz can now reveal the Top 10 PV module suppliers for 2013.
Having rebranded the Nexolon America operations in San Antonio, Texas, as Mission Solar Energy, the long-awaited rebound in US-based c-Si manufacturing has just received a significant boost; something that politicians and legislators in the US have been striving for ever since the high-profile demise of Solyndra.
Confidence is slowly returning to the PV manufacturing supply chain, as supply and demand get back in sync. But as the industry contemplates opening up the CapEx floodgates once more, Finlay Colville says it would do well not to forget the last PV gold rush.
With the cost of project finance in some emerging economies proving prohibitive, Holger Janke of solar manufacturer Soitec explains how project bonds could help fill the gap open up new markets.
Benchmarking companies in the solar PV industry used to be straightforward. Some companies made key materials (polysilicon, wafers, cells, modules or thin-film panels); others bought and sold these locally or through the value chain. Then project developers and installers added inverters and mounting and built the PV systems. Customers typically released cash up-front, owned the systems outright and could then sit back and enjoy a revenue stream linked to a government incentive.
The UK has more than 4GW of PV projects in the pipeline but the majority is at the mercy of local planning authorities.
Discussions of high average selling price (ASP) regions (such as Japan) and declining regional end-market pull (Europe) are currently in evidence during the round of Q3 reporting calls from public-listed module suppliers. The market size in Europe now and the pricing levels have become key issues, for Chinese and non-Chinese suppliers alike.
Last week, Hanergy Solar Group Limited (Hanergy) provided the first glimpse of its strategy for its recent investments in thin-film CIGS production, having completed the acquisitions of previous CIGS hopefuls, Solibro, Miasolé and Global Solar.
Global PV demand during 2014 is set to represent a new phase of growth for the solar PV industry. Not just because end-market demand is now forecast by NPD Solarbuzz to grow significantly to reach 45-55GW, but because the fundamental issues driving end-market demand appear to be shifting away from legacy demand constraints.