Japanese PV exports fall as domestic demand booms

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Domestic shipments of solar cells and modules in Japan showed consistent growth again in the second fiscal quarter of 2013, according to the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association (JPEA).

The Q2 2013 shipment figures show a 421MW increase from the previous quarter, rising to 2,075MW in the July to September period from 1,654MW in the first quarter, April to June.

The total shipment volume for the first two quarters of this year is at 3,729MW, close to the total figure for the whole of 2012, when domestic shipments were at 3,809MW, which was itself more than double the total figure for 2011 of 1,404MW.

The statistical surveys, published regularly by JPEA, refer to the Japanese fiscal year, which begins in April and finishes at the end of March. Second quarter 2013 figures also show a more than threefold increase in domestic shipments compared to the same period last year, when the figure was 626,972kW.

Conversely, exports fell to 53MW, equivalent to about an eighth of Q1 2011, when exports peaked at 439MW. The total exported was also more than 100MW less than in the second quarter of last fiscal year. Exports have been falling in recent times and 2013 is the first year where Q1 and Q2 export figures have been less than 100MW in each quarter, with just over 35MW of exports registered in the April to June period. This is thought to be due in part to several Japanese companies continuing to manufacture to full capacity purely to serve the domestic market.

The list of 41 companies surveyed by JPEA includes Japanese companies such as Kyocera, Solar Frontier, Sharp, Panasonic SANYO and Toshiba, as well as foreign companies and their Japanese subsidiaries, including Suntech, Canadian Solar, Trina Solar and Hanwha Q Cells. The survey is also broken down into cell types, Si single cell and Si polycrystalline as well as thin-film and other products.

The survey also appears to show that while Japanese companies still dominate the domestic market, the market share held by foreign companies has increased modestly but steadily in recent years.

The figure for imported cells and modules in Q2 of 2013 stood at around 28% of total shipments to Japan. Around 628MW of cells and modules were also produced by facilities outside Japan that belonged to Japanese companies.

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