The top makers of photovoltaic modules solidified their market dominance in 2013, with Chinese suppliers continuing to lead the solar world, according to new analysis from IHS Technology.
Seven of the world's top 10 solar module suppliers in 2013 have their headquarters or the bulk of their manufacturing operations in China, based on a study by IHS of 150 leading PV component manufacturers. Leading the way is China's Yingli Green Energy, which shipped 3.25 GW of solar modules, followed by Trina Solar, Canadian Solar, Sharp and Jinko Solar.
Despite the continued success of China, the overall market share of Chinese suppliers stagnated in 2013, remaining at nearly the same level as in 2012. This comes in contrast to Japanese firms, which expanded their total share of market last year.
‘Chinese and Japanese PV module suppliers benefited from the surge in demand in their domestic markets, with China in particular accounting for more than a quarter of global installations in 2013 and becoming the leading region in the process,’ says Jessica Jin, analyst for the solar supply chain at IHS.
Leaders maintain their grip
Global PV module shipments grew overall by 24% in 2013, reaching a total of 38.7 GW. But the top 15 module suppliers expanded their shipments by a noteworthy 43% on average, demonstrating a solidified hold on the market. The combined market share last year of the top 15 was 59%, up from 51% in 2012.
The latest rankings also reflect the current PV boom in Japan, which accounted for 17% of global installations in 2013. All of the three largest Japanese players climbed by several positions compared to 2012.
Both China and Japan are difficult to enter for foreign companies. However, foreign suppliers have a better opportunity to sell modules in Japan through local partners, manufacturing agreements or distributors, Jin says.
Among the PV module suppliers, Chinese-based ReneSola more than tripled its shipments in 2013, while South Korea's Hanwha Q-Cells and Japan's Kyocera doubled shipments compared to 2012 levels. Two players – JA Solar from China and Solar Frontier from Japan – grew much faster than the market, with shipments for each expanding by more than 60%.
For its part, the REC Group from Norway defended its position as the leading module supplier headquartered in Europe, despite growing somewhat slower than the overall market.
As supply and demand get into balance in the industry, the outlook for 2014 is positive, IHS believes.
In particular, global installations will continue in their shift toward Asia, and the major Chinese players will start expansion efforts again by a variety of means – adding new manufacturing capacity, working with OEM partners and acquiring and upgrading existing facilities. JA Solar, Trina Solar and Yingli Green Energy are among those that will extend capacities significantly in 2014.