IHS: Module prices rise for first time in four years

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PV module prices have risen for the first time in four years, reflecting a newly restored balance in global supply and demand, research by IHS claims.

IHS’s iSuppli PV Module Price Tracker reveals that the average selling price (ASP) for Chinese crystalline silicon modules shipped to the EU increase by 4% in March, the first monthly rise since January 2009.

And the upward price trend is set to continue, the research maintains, with a 1% increase expected in April and an average of 4% during the next three months.

IHS ascribes the upswing in prices to the volume of modules being sold into China and Japan’s booming markets.

A further factor cited by IHS, and already extensively analysed by PV-Tech, is the impact of the compulsory registration ordered by the European Commission of all Chinese solar imports into the EU ahead of the possible imposition of trade duties. This has prompted a shortage of Chinese modules in Europe, further driving up prices.

Glen Gu, senior analyst at HIS, said: “For years, solar module manufacturers have contended with profit-killing market conditions characterised by oversupply and rapidly falling prices,” said Glenn Gu, senior analyst at HIS.

“Now, with clear signs that the balance between supply and demand is correcting, prices have stopped their decline and have begun to rise. This is mostly good news, because sales are increasing from Asia, causing worldwide demand to catch up with supply. On the other hand, prices also are rising because of antidumping legislation in the European Union, which is negatively impacting sales for Chinese suppliers.”

Although the price rises seen in March are unlikely to be repeated in April, IHS predicts average Chinese module prices will have risen by 5-6% compared to March, reaching US$0.691/Wp. This will be driven by growing module shortages in Europe.

But other analyses of the world module market suggest the industry is not completely out of the woods yet. Earlier this week NPD Solarbuzz predicted that leading module companies would not return to profitability until 2015.

Although IHS did not guide ASP trends in 2013, Dr. Henning Wicht, director & principal analyst photovoltaics at IHS told PV Tech: “The recent uptake of module prices in Europe and the forecasted increase until June will help to stabilize the average selling price (ASP) globally in 2013.”

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