Chinese tier-one solar modules now cost more per watt than in any other major solar end market worldwide, a report from GTM Research reveals.
According to the analyst firm’s ‘Global PV Market Research 2015’ report published today, regional disparities in module prices grew in 2014 as a consequence of factors such as competition, falling currency values and trade disputes.
The report revealed prices for top-brand Chinese modules in the US averaged US$0.72/W in the fourth quarter of 2014, up from around US$0.70 per watt a year earlier.
GTM said prices in the US had been driven up year on year because of the ongoing trade case against China, which has seen a second round of tariffs imposed on Chinese solar equipment imported into the US.
By contrast, in Japan, a solar end market commonly perceived as being expensive, average prices have fallen and now stand at US$0.67/W, down from US$0.75 last year, a consequence of competition and depreciation of the yen, GTM said.
There is also a sharp contrast between the US and Chile, the lowest-price market tracked in GTM’s report, where the large scale of projects being built and lack of subsidies mean prices average US$0.56/W.
“Regional price disparity grew in 2014, with the US ranking as the highest-priced market for tier-one Chinese manufacturers,” said GTM Research solar analyst and report author Jade Jones.
“It should be noted that though the US was the highest-priced market by the end of the year, it was also one of the lowest-margin markets for suppliers. This contrasts with 2013, when Japan and Europe were the highest-priced and highest-margin markets,” Jones added.
According to GTM, average prices in Europe and China both fell year on year. In the EU, the average price of US$0.65/W was a result of deprecation of the euro and the minimum import price imposed by the EU on modules from China, GTM said.
In China, the drop in price to US$0.57 was a result of weaker than expected end market demand, which pushed prices down over 2014, GTM said. According to the latest figures, China missed its 13GW installation target in 2014 by around 2GW.
GTM Research said it expected regional prices to fall in 2015, with US prices likely take the biggest plunge, falling 10% between the first and second half of 2015 and reaching US$0.65 per watt by the end of 2015.