Canadian Solar has announced that it will open two new business centres in Japan, describing the country as a key market for the company, having taken an estimated 7% market share.
The new business centres will be built with the aim of further boosting Canadian Solar’s activities in four geographic regions of Japan. One will be built in Tokyo, focusing on the central-eastern region, and another in Fukuoka, serving the south. The company also operates offices in Osaka and Sendai, covering the south-west and the north.
Canadian Solar claims it has to date shipped 508MW of modules to the Japanese market under the Canadian Solar brand. Foreign modules are often rebranded with Japanese companies’ own trademarks. Non-Japanese companies gained a recent foothold in the country, partly as a consequence of the inability of domestic suppliers to meet huge rises in demand for PV.
The estimated 7% market share is a figure put forward by the company, along with an assertion that it has taken the top foreign brand position among PV suppliers to the Japanese market.
Speaking to PV Tech, Finlay Colville, vice president of analysis firm NPD Solarbuzz, offered his take on Canadian Solar's claim and elaborated on the recent situation regarding the supply of foreign-made PV modules to Japan.
“Canadian Solar’s claims align with the January 2014 release of NPD Solarbuzz’ Module Tracker Quarterly report that also has the company as the number one overseas supplier to the Japanese market for 2013. However, the top four positions in Japan are all taken by Japanese brands, although a share of this is outsourced now to China and Taiwan. Other leading overseas suppliers into Japan include SunPower, Hanwha SolarOne, Trina Solar and JA Solar,” however Colville pointed out that “the world’s leading module supplier, Yingli Green Energy, has yet to grow its Japanese business”.
Canadian Solar’s involvement in the Japanese market is not limited to module supply. The company also supplies the residential and commercial rooftop markets with what Canadian Solar calls “solar PV module system kit solutions”. In addition Canadian Solar claims to have now acquired a late-stage utility-scale project pipeline of 330MW, an increase of 52MW from the third quarter of last year when the company’s Japanese project pipeline stood at 278MW.
Canadian Solar chairman Shawn Qu said: “Japan has been a key market for us since 2009, when we initiated our market diversification strategy. We are proud of our progress and our accomplishments in the space of five years, as we built our team to over 100 employees, and expanded our business scope from residential and commercial PV system sales to include module sales and utility-scale solar project development.”