- Canadian Solar’s Q1/2021 revenues grew to $1.1 billion, growing 32% annually mainly due to increased contribution of high margin project sales and higher module ASP
- At the end of Q1/2021, its global battery storage project development pipeline grew to around 17 GWh and large scale solar pipeline to 21 GW
- It exited Q1/2021 with $1.5 billion in cash and plans to use it to selectively build strategic stock of key materials to support higher customer demand while lessening the impact of increasing raw material costs
In the past 12 months, the price of polysilicon has ‘tripled’, according to Canadian Solar’s CSI Solar Subsidiary President Yan Zhuang. Such high cost of raw materials with higher transportation costs, and ‘unfavorable’ foreign exchange fluctuations pushed his company to partially mitigate the impact by raising module prices during Q1/2021.
“Solar glass prices are not only back to normal, but right now they’re below the pre-inflationary phase. Unfortunately, this was more than offset by polysilicon prices, which have tripled over the past 12 months,” explained Zhuang on a call with analysts while sharing the company’s Q1/2021 financial results. “This is very unusual as we can see that the total polysilicon supply in the market is more than enough to satisfy end market demand. The problem is that, well over 200 GW of wafer and cell capacity are competing for less than 200 GW of polysilicon supply. Meanwhile, we are seeing greater speculative polysilicon treating activities by intermediaries, which is also contributing to the higher polysilicon price.”
Canadian Solar shipped 3.139 GW modules in Q1/2021, growing 42% YoY and 5% QoQ, shipping 267 MW to its own utility scale projects. Top 5 markets for the company remained the US, China, Brazil, Australia and Japan. Especially higher project sales in Japan and the US along with higher module ASPs, partially offset by lower modules shipments led to its revenues of $1.1 billion in the reporting quarter, growing by 32% annually and 5% sequentially. It sold around 500 MW projects during the quarter.
Gross margin of 17.9%, dropped from 27% in Q1/2020, yet went up from 13.6% in Q4/2020. This sequential rise it attributed to an increased contribution of high margin project sales and higher module ASP, partially offset by higher manufacturing costs.
Company’s Senior VP and CFO Dr. Huifeng Chang said the company exited Q1/2021 with $1.5 billion in cash which enables it to ‘selectively build strategic stock of key materials’ to support higher customer demand while lessening the impact of increasing raw material costs.
“Despite the market uncertainties, we still expect significant growth in solar module shipments in the second quarter, as reflected in our guidance,” said Canadian Solar Chairman and CEO Dr. Shawn Qu. “The updated outlook also incorporates our capacity expansion plans, as well as our efforts to protect profitability ahead of volume. Underlying demand remains strong globally across our markets, while new markets, like battery storage, are growing at an exponential rate.”
As on May 20, 2021, Canadian Solar guided for its Q2/2021 module shipments to fall within 3.5 GW to 3.7 GW, bringing in $1.4 billion to $1.5 billion revenues and gross margin of 9.5% to 10.5%. Revenue guidance includes significant contribution from battery storage, the management stated.
For full year 2021, the management has reiterated module guidance of between 18 GW to 20 GW of modules globally, reflecting around 65% annual growth over 11.3 GW it shipped in 2020. It expects sell 1.8 GW to 2.3 GW project capacity. According to the management, annual revenues will grow over 70% to between $5.6 billion to $6 billion, and gross margin of 19.8% (see Canadian Solar Reports 9% Annual Growth In 2020 Revenues).
Management has also introduced total battery storage shipment guidance of between 810 MWh to 860 MWh. At the end of Q1/2021, its global battery storage project development pipeline grew to around 17 GWh (16,878 MWh). Its large scale solar pipeline grew to 21 GW comprising around 6 GW capacity either in operation, under construction or in the backlog.
At the end of 2020, Canadian Solar’s ingot, wafer, cell and module annual production capacity was 2.1 GW, 6.3 GW, 9.6 GW and 16.1 GW, respectively.
By the end of 2021, it targets to increase it to 5.1 GW for ingots, 10.3 GW for wafers, 13.3 GW for cells, and 25.7 GW for modules. All new capacity will produce the company’s high-power, high efficiency modules in the HiKu and BiHiKu product portfolios.
The company officially commissioned its 250 MW N-type ingot production line recently and expects to start shipping HJT solar modules in Q3/2021 which it claims will make the manufacturer the 1st global solar module brand to deliver HJT solar modules of large wafer size and half-cut cells with over 24.5% efficiency.
Speaking of high-power modules, TaiyangNews recently held a virtual conference on Very High-Power Solar Modules with the majority of the TOP 10 PV module manufacturers and leading inverter suppliers (see Day 1 and Day 2 coverage).