Prices begin to stabilize, though falling revenues and job losses expected among Chinese manufacturers

According to reports from Energy Trend, a 30% decline in PV demand from China this year will likely spell trouble for some of the country’s major module manufacturers, with job losses and factory closures expected, despite China’s determination to open new international markets for its PV industry.

Floating PV project developed under China’s Top Runner Program. Top Runner projects will be the main source of demand in China for the rest of 2018, for high efficiency modules in particular.

Figures published by the Taiwan-based PV analysts show prices across the PV supply chain falling further, though they will likely stabilize. Mono-cSi in particular, has seen price declines, while multi remains more stable. EnergyTrend expects around a 30% decline in Chinese PV installations for 2018, with between 29 and 35 GW to be installed by the end of the year.

Module prices in China fell slightly to between CNY 1.8 and 2.05 ($0.26 and $0.29)/W for standard 270 W multi modules, with the majority of demand coming from 4.1 GW of poverty alleviation projects. High efficiency mono modules, meanwhile, saw prices fall to CNY 2.3 – 2.4 ($0.33-$0.35), which EnergyTrend puts down to falling mono wafer prices, and the expectation of low procurement prices in upcoming rounds of the Top Runner Program, which is expected to provide 5-6.5 GW of additional demand.

With reports of closing factories and employee layoffs from several manufacturers in China, EnergyTrend expects the focus for China’s manufacturers to be on overseas markets for the rest of the year. “The excess capacity from the Chinese PV supply chain is expected to be directed to all available channels in the overseas markets,” it says. “Chinese suppliers will not only slash prices further in order to drive sales in India, they will also aggressively expand into overseas markets that have shown demand growth this year, such as Europe, Australia, Mexico, and North Africa.”

Overseas module prices have also continued to fall, with EnergyTrend quoting $0.257-$0.407/W for 295 W mono, and $0.287-$0.425 for high efficiency mono (300 W+). Standard multi 270-275 W has fallen to between $0.231 and $0.265/W.

It expects that weakening demand in China and India will slow down the pace of PV until at least mid-2019. “Solar enterprises will therefore keep undercutting each other and searching for new export channels,” it concludes.

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