2018 saw a five-year high of China’s photovoltaic product exports, partly due to rising demand for production capacity in overseas markets and partly the termination of European Commission’s anti-dumping measures against Chinese products.
China’s total exports of photovoltaic products hit about $16.11 billion in 2018, the highest since the EU decided to end minimum import price limitations on Chinese products. And capacity of all the exported elements reached 41 gigawatts, an increase of 30 percent year-on-year, according to statistics of the China Photovoltaic Industry Association.
At present, there are over 20 Chinese companies have production interest abroad, mostly in Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, via JV, mergers and acquisitions.
The booming export volumes of Chinese photovoltaic products is in line with China’s growing installed capacity for green and renewable energy, which hit 728 GW, an increase of 12 percent year-on-year by the end of 2018.
The installed capacity of photovoltaic power stations in 2018 hit 174 GW, an increase of about 34 percent year-on-year, whilst power generation through photovoltaic cells spiked to 177.5 billion kilowatthours, a growth rate of about 50 percent over 2017, according to the country’s National Energy Administration.
China will continue to advance the high-quality development of the photovoltaic sector at a reasonable pace and on a modest scale, at the same time improve management of photovoltaic generation, said Li Chuangjun, deputy director of the new energy department of the NEA.
The European Commission first imposed anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures against China’s exports of solar panels in 2013. Chinese manufacturers should sell solar products in Europe at or above a minimum price, or else they could face duties of as high as 64.9 percent, which will cause these manufacturers to lose their comparative advantage in terms of price. The decision to eliminate the minimum limitations, taking effect on September 3, 2018, will serve the interests of the whole bloc, giving that EU is pushing forward its goal of increasing the ratio of renewable energy in energy mix.
On top of the termination, new rules released by Chinese government to cut feed-in tariffs for the solar sector have pushed firms to seek out new opportunities overseas, while keeping calm the overheated industry down and let it develop on a healthy track.
The government announced a reduction in governmental feed-in tariff by 0.05 yuan (0.7 US cents) per kWh on June 1, 2018. The feed-in tariff is believed not sustainable in the long run, and the cut could encourage solar sector of the country to move toward grid parity.
In recent years, Chinese companies in solar sectors have been motivated to explore overseas markets, especially Africa, and now more countries and regions that are involved in China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. The stable demand from the US, Japan and India and accelerating demand in newly-explored market will be a strong driver for the sector.
New installed capacity in 2019 is expected to hit around 35 to 49.4 GW, according to Wang Bohua, secretary-general of the China Photovoltaic Industry Association.