China PV sector crunch 'is slowing'

Those in the PV industry who are counting on a vast number of future bankruptcies among Chinese module makers may be left disappointed, with an expert suggesting the pace of consolidation may be slowing considerably.

Sicheng Wang, senior researcher at China’s powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), says more than half of the 85 or so existing Chinese module makers may still be in business at the end of 2015 – an alarming prospect for non-Chinese companies still struggling to keep their head above water.

Some experts believe that the PV industry can support no more than a dozen or two module makers globally on a sustainably profitable basis.

While more bankruptcies are undoubtedly coming this year and next in China, they will be at least partially offset by new Chinese companies entering the sector as it returns to profitability, said Wang, speaking today at World Smart Energy Week.

China's PV industry remains highly fragmented, despite several hundred module makers having either gone bankrupt or abandoned the sector during the past few years.

The nine Chinese module companies which each produced more than 1GW last year – a list that includes the likes of Yingli, Trina and JA Solar – collectively accounted for less than 60% of China’s total output.

Wang believes that there will be “less than 20” wafer makes left in China by the end of 2015 – compared to around 35 at present – and “maybe five” polysilicon producers.