According to market research firm IHS, Chinese tier-1 PV module suppliers are mostly sold out in the first quarter of 2015 as demand remains strong from markets such as China, Japan and the UK as well as in South America and Central America. 

IHS noted that the overhang of PV projects in China due to delays is also playing a key factor in maintaining high demand for modules in the first quarter. 

“We have heard from both suppliers and buyers about the expected shortage of Chinese tier-1 modules in the first quarter,” said Jessica Jin, analyst for solar at IHS. “After a demand surge in the fourth quarter of 2014, Chinese tier-1 module suppliers decreased their inventory significantly. Considering the Chinese New Year occurs in the first quarter, companies won’t run their capacity in full production, either; so they won’t have enough products for all quotations. Most of them have already sold out for the first quarter.”

Another underlying factor in module shortages from Chinese tier-1 suppliers has been continued market share gains in 2014 and consolidation across the sector. IHS said that Chinese tier-1 suppliers increased market share from 34% in the first quarter of 2014 to 45% by the fourth quarter of 2014. 

IHS forecasts that Chinese tier-1 suppliers will command 35% of global module capacity in the first quarter, while the total effective capacity in the first quarter is expected to reach 5.7GW, while total global demand is expected to reach 10.8 GW.

PV Tech reported late last year that Trina Solar, Canadian Solar, JinkoSolar, ReneSola and JA Solar were leading shipment growth guidance amongst piers for 2014. 

JA Solar had shipment growth projections of around 100%, while JinkoSolar expected shipment growth of 65% to 85% in 2014.

With many running at full capacity and further global demand increases expected, a new wave of capacity expansions from the fastest growing companies is expected in 2015. 

In a recently published report in PV Tech’s sister technical journal, Photovoltaics International, which details capacity expansion announcements in 2014, Canadian Solar, JinkoSolar, all announced over 500MW of expansions in the fourth quarter of 2014 to meet growing demand. Other Chinese tier 1 suppliers are expected to announce capacity expansions when revealing fourth quarter and full-year results through late February and into March. 

IHS is currently forecasting total global solar PV installations reaching 52.8GW in 2015, up from estimated installations of 45.7GW in 2014.