China Solar Manufactures up 15.7% in Jan-June 2020, says CPIA

The China Photovoltaic Solar Association (CPIA), an industry body of solar manufacturers in the country, has announced that manufacturers in the country churned out 15.7 percent higher production of solar panels, at 59 GW in the first six months of this year.

That would seem to indicate that the effects of the Coronavirus have been shrugged off, though any growth under 20 percent for the full year will be considered a disappointment for the sector, considering capacity expansions already done, as well as the overall global growth expected this year, especially China itself.

An inventory pile-up could be building up in fact, pointing to the possibility of softer prices, if production is not reined in. Thus, even as domestic installations inched up only 0.9 percent to reach 11.5 GW, exports clocked in 27.7 GW till May, dropping by 1.8 percent over the same time last year. Add the June shipment numbers of about 6 GW, and the amount remaining (14 GW) is too large to allow for production ramp ups at the same pace.

The numbers come even as multiple key markets are pushing to cut dependence on China-based imports, notably India, and the US.

In India, there have already been announcements for just over 7 GW of manufacturing capacity in the same period, from the Adani Group (2GW), Renew Power (2GW), and Vikram Solar (3 GW), though most of this capacity addition will be spread over 2 to 5 years at least. However, expect a few more announcements, including some possible surprises in the form of large commitments for wafers and possibly even ingot manufacturing, that could truly set the stage for a global capacity glut. India of course is throwing in some serious protection from China in the form of the extension of its Safeguard Duty as well as a possible addition of customs duty to imports from August.

But for the fluid political situation between the two countries, we are aware of at least two Chinese manufacturers that were seriously considering shipping a couple of their production lines upto 500 MW each to India between 2020- and 2021.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International