This was caused in part by the booming Japanese market, which was expected to total between 6.9 and 9.4 GW of new-build PV in 2013. Another driver was the rush to ship products to the European Union before a higher rate of preliminary anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese products was expected to come into effect on 6 August.
The index showed that leading Chinese cell makers made shipments corresponding to 116% of their average manufacturing capacity utilisation in the month of June 2013, with Chinese module makers averaging 99% and Taiwanese cell makers 84%.
However, the sample in the index (19.2GW of cell capacity and 16.1GW of module capacity) is weighted towards tier 1 and tier 2 companies, because these companies are more likely to provide timely data. However, utilisation rates have certainly increased significantly from May 2013 across the board.
Pricing along the value chain has also risen slightly in recent months, with the BNEF Solar Spot Price Index showing average polysilicon prices of just over US$17/kg, up from a low of US$16/kg in December 2012. Module prices have also risen slightly, with Chinese modules costing around US$0.75/W and international modules US$0.86/W. Market participants said that they expect prices to stabilise from now on. Some suppliers, such as Chinese company Hareon Solar, were planning to increase capacity outside China to lessen the effects of forthcoming anti-dumping tariffs on polysilicon imports into China from the US, and on Chinese products into Europe. However, now China and the EU have agreed a settlement, these companies may cancel these plans.
“These data show that there is strong global demand for the PV products of the largest manufacturers, despite uncertainty and the flow of bad news from the global solar market,” said Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Consolidation continues, but 2013 will still be a year of growth for the industry as a whole.”
The Solar Insight Index team expects the global PV market to total 37.0GW (the median scenario of 35 individual country forecasts) in 2013, compared to 30.5GW in 2012.