REC looks to Asia for module sales

REC chief executive Ole Enger says the Norwegian PV group is making significant strides in selling into Asia, but the company's top line remains under heavy pressure amid ongoing declines in module and polysilicon prices.

REC’s revenues fell to NKr1.28bn ($220m) in the first quarter – down 24% sequentially, and a far cry from the NKr2.14bn it took in during the same period a year ago.

The drop came amid a 4% quarter-on-quarter price decrease for its modules, and a 9% drop for its polysilicon.

REC’s top line was also negatively impacted by  its decision in January to “temporarily” mothball its Siemens-based polysilicon production in the US state of Washington, which has become uncompetitive in the face of ferocious price declines across the polysilicon market.

REC remains one of the world’s largest suppliers of PV-grade polysilicon, and was the world’s ninth largest supplier of solar modules last year, shipping nearly 800MW.

The company continues to focus intensively on cost reduction in an attempt to offset its declining revenue, including taking the painful decision last year to permanently shut its remaining wafer capacity in Norway.

REC reported a net loss of NKr209m for the quarter – a significant improvement over the NKr2.2bn it lost in the final quarter of 2012, when it swallowed significant write-downs.

The company benefited from a one-off payment from a customer looking to get out of a long-term take-or-payment contract for silane gas – a key polysilicon feedstock, and for which REC is the world’s largest producer.

While acknowledging that a supply glut remains in place across the global PV market, Enger says the company is seeing “improved demand” for its modules, and confirmed that prices are at last stabilising.

In particular, he pointed to the success REC modules are seeing in Asia, where – among other deals – the company recently delivered more than 15MW to a trio of projects in India.