China’s solar exports up 64% in 2022, will continue to dominate global PV manufacturing

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Reddit
Email
High power prices spur global markets to buy solar modules from China. Image: Sungrow

China’s solar exports have continued to grow as demand from global consumers and developers increased, while its dominance in PV manufacturing will likely continue, according to Wood Mackenzie’s recent study.

Last year, China’s solar export revenue increased by 64% to US$52 billion thanks to high power prices driven by the energy crisis. Consumers and developers from around the world tended to buy more solar modules from China to lower the cost. From 2018-2021, China’s solar export revenue increased from only US$15 billion to US$32 billion.

This article requires Premium SubscriptionBasic (FREE) Subscription

Unlock unlimited access for 12 whole months of distinctive global analysis

Photovoltaics International is now included.

  • Regular insight and analysis of the industry’s biggest developments
  • In-depth interviews with the industry’s leading figures
  • Unlimited digital access to the PV Tech Power journal catalogue
  • Unlimited digital access to the Photovoltaics International journal catalogue
  • Access to more than 1,000 technical papers
  • Discounts on Solar Media’s portfolio of events, in-person and virtual

Or continue reading this article for free

Wood Mackenzie’s research director Alex Whitworth said that trade tensions had taken a back seat to high power prices.

The study also examined China’s PV export volume by type. PV modules’ export volume increased from 108GW in 2021 to 154GW last year, representing a 42% growth. Wood Mackenzie said Chinese modules were up to 57% cheaper than US- and EU-produced modules driven by low energy costs, scale advantages and government support, which was a cost-competitiveness against other markets.

Conversely, US and EU solar module manufacturing were not competitive without subsidies.

China’s cell export volume also saw a huge increase, up from 11GW in 2021 to 24GW in 2022. Wafer export volume surged from 29GW in 2021 to 41GW in 2022, representing a 44% increase.

Looking ahead, China’s export capacity for upstream wafers and cells will grow to more than 230GW in 2026, higher than the global market demand, excluding China, of 170GW. In addition, the available module capacity for export in China is also expected to grow gradually to 149GW by 2026.

China’s local module manufacturing cost last year was only US$0.24 per watt, significantly lower than the US (US$0.56), Europe (US$0.52), and India (US$0.33). Southeast Asia’s manufacturing cost was close to China as it stood at US$0.26 per watt.

Whitworth said China’s dominance in PV manufacturing will not be undermined by US, EU, and Indian policies. He said: “The US is counting on the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which will allocate at least US$41 billion to stimulate domestic manufacturing. But costs still favour imported modules, and even as more local module production comes online in coming years, there will be persistent dependence on imports of components from Asia.”

Despite the US government’s aim to produce all modules in the country by 2026, the goal will be difficult to reach as it lacks wafer and cell production in the region, while incentives cannot fully bridge the manufacturing cost gap between US-made modules and Chinese counterparts.

Meanwhile, the EU lacks specific policies to propel capacity buildouts and displace imports, and India needs more financial support to reach its target. Southeast Asia boasts a mature supply chain and large production capacity for export, but it still relies on Chinese-produced components.

Whitworth added that companies outside of China have opportunities in the industry as more markets demand local jobs and investment for solar, but China’s domestic market scale and supply chain were “in a league of their own and appear to be on a sustainable growth trajectory”.

11 June 2024
3:00 PM (BST) / 4:00 PM (CEST)
This webinar will explore the challenges faced with bringing up modern production lines with increasing process complexity, available MES functional modules to meet high volume production requirements and much more!
8 October 2024
San Francisco Bay Area, USA
PV Tech has been running an annual PV CellTech Conference since 2016. PV CellTech USA, on 8-9 October 2024 is our second PV CellTech conference dedicated to the U.S. manufacturing sector. The event in 2023 was a sell out success and 2024 will once again gather the key stakeholders from PV manufacturing, equipment/materials, policy-making and strategy, capital equipment investment and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out PV manufacturing in the U.S. out to 2030 and beyond.
26 November 2024
Málaga, Spain
Understanding PV module supply to the European market in 2025. PV ModuleTech Europe 2024 is a two-day conference that tackles these challenges directly, with an agenda that addresses all aspects of module supplier selection; product availability, technology offerings, traceability of supply-chain, factory auditing, module testing and reliability, and company bankability.

Read Next

Premium
April 1, 2024
Gareth Simkins examines the winning projects of AR5 and looks ahead to assess how solar is likely to fare in future rounds.
Premium
February 29, 2024
A major multinational glass company has verified that the crushed glass produced from used solar modules by Solarcycle can be used to make high-quality PV glass sheets, which has never been proven before, the PV recycling firm’s CEO has revealed exclusively to PV Tech Premium.
January 31, 2024
Several US senators have urged the Biden Administration to increase tariffs on Chinese-made PV module, cell and wafer imports, claiming they are a threat to US solar manufacturing.
Premium
January 19, 2024
CALSSA executive director Bernadette Del Chiaro says a downward trend will be the best description of the California market this year without government intervention.
January 19, 2024
Chinese solar manufacturer Trina Solar has launched a new n-type industrial tunnel oxide passivated contacts (i-TOPCon) module designed for commercial and industrial rooftops.
January 18, 2024
The updated Western Solar Plan would streamline the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) framework for siting solar energy projects.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
May 29, 2024
11am (EDT) / 5pm (CEST)
Solar Media Events
June 4, 2024
London, UK
Upcoming Webinars
June 11, 2024
3:00 PM (BST) / 4:00 PM (CEST)
Solar Media Events
July 2, 2024
Athens, Greece