Canadian Solar reports jump in shipments as manufacturing segment slumps to loss

One of Canadian Solar’s completed projects in the US. Image: Canadian Solar.

Canadian Solar has reported a jump in shipments and revenue, meeting the top end of its guidance, but warned of a challenging quarter for its manufacturing division after it slumped to a loss.  

Reporting its Q1 2021 results today, ‘Solar Module Super League’ member Canadian Solar revealed module shipments to have reached 3.1GW in the quarter, up 42% year-on-year and 5% sequentially, as well as falling in line with guidance it offered at the start of the year.

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Total revenue and group margin both came in towards the top end of its guidance, reaching US$1.1 billion and 17.9% respectively.

At the start of the financial year, Canadian Solar guided for shipments to be in the 18GW – 20GW range and for project sales to fall between 1.8GW – 2.3GW, a substantial increase on the 11.3GW and 1.4GW figures respectively recorded in 2020. The manufacturer has reiterated that guidance for the year in spite of headwinds including spiking polysilicon prices.

However Yan Zhuang, president of Canadian Solar’s manufacturing arm CSI Solar, spoke of a “challenging” quarter for the division, beset by rising raw material and transportation costs. Polysilicon prices have continued to rise, trebling over the course of the last year, and Zhuang said the firm had increased module prices by a “near double digit percentage” relative to prices in Q4 2020 in order to partially offset those costs.

CSI Solar actually reported a loss for the reporting period of US$52.7 million, a significant swing from the US$84 million profit reported in the corresponding quarter last year.

More detail on CSI Solar’s performance and strategy moving forward in relation to raw material price increases can be found via PV Tech Premium here.

Nevertheless, Canadian Solar chief executive Shawn Qu said the IPO of CSI Solar remains on track, with the company having submitted its listing application materials to authorities in China.

The company also revealed it expects to make its first shipment of heterojunction modules in Q3 2021, having started production at a 250MW pilot line during the first quarter.

Meanwhile the company has also introduced full-year guidance for battery storage shipments of 810 – 860MWh.

Canadian Solar is guiding for Q2 2021 module shipments to fall in the 3.5GW – 3.7GW range, including around 80MW of modules shipped internally to projects the company is developing.

As well as a solar project pipeline of around 20GW, Canadian Solar also noted that its battery storage project development pipeline had nearly doubled to 17GWh, with 1.2GWh of projects currently under construction. Earlier this month Canadian Solar confirmed that it had acquired a stake in and signed a strategic partnership with UK-based energy storage firm Habitat Energy to build its capabilities in the area.

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