Japan shines for Canadian Solar

Japan accounted for a quarter of shipments by Canadian Solar in the first quarter of 2013, reflecting the growing importance of the country to international PV manufacturers.

Canadian Solar said module shipments to the Asian nation in the January-March period were 76% up on the final quarter of 2012.

Japan swallowed 24.5% of the total 340MW of shipments the company notched up in the quarter – a figure that came in ahead of the company’s original guidance range of 290MW to 310MW.

It expects to shift between 380MW and 420MW in the current second quarter – with Japan accounting for 35%-40% of that total.

Japan offers Canadian Solar and its rivals a welcome growth market amid the tightening incentives and trade disputes seen elsewhere.

It is already taking steps to position itself for life after expected EU trade tariffs, the PV group told investors today. “The company has been shipping modules to European customers from its factory in Guelph, Ontario therefore avoiding the risk of retroactive anti-dumping tariffs on solar products manufactured in China.

“The made-in-Canada label also reinforces Canadian Solar's brand, and lets European customers resonate with the company's Canadian roots.”

CEO Shawn Qu said: "During the quarter, we also continued the successful transformation of our business model from a leading module supplier into a leading solar power solutions company with a solid and growing utility-scale project pipeline in Canada, the US, China and Japan, as well as a profitable and growing residential solar system kits business in Japan."

Canadian Solar expects full-year module shipments in the 1.6GW-1.8GW range.

First quarter gross margin improved to 9.7% from 5% in Q4 2012. Canadian Solar’s net loss narrowed to $4.4m in the first quarter from a $105m deficit in the final three months of 2012 and a $21.3m loss in the same quarter a year earlier.