China's PV share slipped in 2013

China’s share of the global supply of PV modules fell modestly in 2013, due in part to the gains made by Japanese players – but also the growing regionalization of module-assembly.

The consolidation of the global PV module industry continued apace last year, with the top 15 suppliers accounting for 59% of total shipments, compared to 51% the year prior, according to IHS.

Unsurprisingly, China remained dominant, with seven of the top 10 suppliers having their headquarters or – in the case of Canadian Solar – the bulk of their manufacturing in China.

Baoding-based Yingli Solar was the world’s leading module supplier last year, and the only player to ship more than 3GW. The top three was rounded out by Trina and Canadian Solar, two other predominately Chinese manufacturers.

Yet China’s overall market share actually fell to 58% from 59% the year prior – and it has remained essentially flat for three years running.

In contrast, Japan’s market share grew to 15%, while Europe’s remained stable at 13%. (Europe’s 2013 performance includes the contribution of REC Solar, which has recently moved its headquarters to Singapore.)

China’s market share is likely to grow in the near term on the back of its blazing domestic PV market, with players like JA Solar, Trina and Yingli planning significant capacity expansions, says Stefan de Haan, principal analyst for solar at IHS.

But overall, the industry is on a long-term path to “more regionalized PV production”, says de Haan.

Despite their controversial nature and dubious legality, domestic content requirements for PV production have become the norm in key emerging solar markets like South Africa and India.

In a growing number of cases, foreign manufacturers – including Chinese – are establishing smaller factories in other countries.

Earlier this month Japan’s Solar Frontier signaled that it may open a factory in the US state of New York.

According to IHS, the top 15 global PV module suppliers in 2013 (excluding module processing services) were:

  • Yingli (HQ: China)
  • Trina (China)
  • Canadian Solar (Canada)
  • Sharp (Japan)
  • JinkoSolar (China)
  • First Solar (US)
  • ReneSola (China)
  • Kyocera (Japan)
  • JA Solar (China)
  • Hanwha SolarOne (China)
  • SunPower (US)
  • Suntech (China)
  • Solar Frontier (Japan)
  • REC Group (Norway; since moved to Singapore after split with REC Silicon)
  • Hanwha Q Cells (Germany)