Thin-film solar module manufacturer First Solar remained the largest supplier of PV modules, with a global share of 8.4% in the first quarter of 2010, according to the latest analysis of the PV module market from IMS Research.
Although shipments of the company's cadmium telluride modules declined slightly over the previous quarter, the totals still exceeded those of all of First Solar's crystalline rivals.
The first quarter of 2010 was another record quarter for the PV module market, with shipments increasing by 3% over the previous quarter – marking four quarters of consecutive growth, IMS Research adds. Most suppliers are now fully utilizing their ever-expanding production capacities to fulfil soaring demand, and the trend is forecast to continue in the second quarter of 2010.
The battle of the major Chinese crystalline players continues, with five of the top seven suppliers being large Chinese pure-play solar companies. Although Trina Solar shipped more modules than Yingli Solar for the first time, the quarter was far from unsuccessful for Yingli, which enjoyed increased average selling prices and a gross margin of 33%, the report says.
‘After a year of plummeting prices, Yingli Solar was able to increase its average selling price during Q1 2010,’ says Sam Wilkinson, research analyst in IMS Research's PV group. ‘However, whilst its average price increased almost 9% over Q4 2009 – measured in euros – where it continues to ship the majority of its modules, the devaluation of the euro meant it only realized a two percent increase in renminbi.’ The future of the euro remains an ongoing concern for many Asian suppliers, with a further squeeze in margins likely in the second half of this year, IMS Research adds.