China solar giants shrug off market fall, eye growth plans

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on September 5, 2018.
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BEIJING: The top solar manufacturers in China are boosting production capacity, betting that higher output will help them seize a bigger chunk of the global market that is set for its first-ever annual contraction.

JinkoSolar Holding Co, which has lost almost half its market value this year, is ramping up cell and panel capacity and targeting higher-quality production, Qian Jing, vice-president of the world’s largest panel maker, said in an email.

GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd, Tongwei Co and LONGi Green Energy Technology Co, which have all plunged at least 45% over the same period, also announced expansion plans.

The push for growth comes even as global solar prices have tanked after China cut domestic subsidies to rein in record growth in 2017 and integrate existing capacity into the grid.

 JinkoSolar will raise cell capacity by 40% and panels by 20%, by the end of this year from levels seen in the second quarter, according to a results presentation in August.

Tongwei will more than triple its polysilicon capacity by year end and double cell capacity.

GCL-Poly plans to raise polysilicon capacity at its new Xinjiang plant to 50,000 tonnes from a proposed 40,000 tonnes, while LONGi seeks to triple its annual wafer capacity to 45gw by 2020.
While the fallout from China’s clampdown has hurt manufacturers from Asia to Europe, there are good reasons not to cut back.

Raising output will allow them to pare unit costs and boost sales while less efficient suppliers get squeezed, according to BNEF analyst Jiang Yali.

This could help them weather the slump of more than 20% in panel and polysilicon prices since China’s plan was announced, BNEF data showed. — Bloomberg