- InfoLink Consulting counts China to have exported 154.8 GW solar modules in 2022, up 74% annually
- Europe was the largest market procuring 86.6 GW but its installations were not as high due to lack of inverters and skilled labor
- While Europe’s logistics hub the Netherlands was the largest market for Chinese modules in 2022, Brazil came next with an installation rush for small-scale projects
- As module inventories lie piled up in some markets as Europe and India, and trade policies hold back demand, analysts see it a wait and watch for similar high growth rates in 2023 for PV market
China exported 154.8 GW of solar modules to the world in 2022 reporting an annual increase of 74% from 88.8 GW in 2021, with Europe emerging the largest importer of these taking 86.6 GW of the lot, according to Taiwan based market intelligence firm InfoLink Consulting.
While inventory built up in China in H1/2022 with increased demand globally, in the 2nd half as overseas markets slowed down, the country’s monthly import levels dropped to 10.7 GW in November 2022 rising again with 10.8 GW in December 2022.
Even as Europe faced its worst energy crisis ever with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, solar module demand grew with the continent speeding up its energy transition to cleaner sources of energy. InfoLink counts Germany, Spain, Poland and the Netherlands reporting maximum demand.
Chinese solar module imports to Europe peaked at 9.1 GW in July 2022, while monthly demand in the 1st half doubled month-on-month. Solar installations did not keep up with the module availability due to lack of inverter and labor shortages, analysts opine, leading to a drop in import volume in H2. Overall, there was 112% increase in European import demand for Chinese modules last year, up from 40.9 GW in 2021.
InfoLink points out, “It is still uncertain how long high inventory level will hold back demand. With supportive policy frameworks, inventory draws will recover, if inventories are depleted by the first half of 2023.”
Another China based PV market intelligence firm Gessey PV Consulting said Chinese module makers shipped more than 60 GW solar modules to Europe during 8M/2022 (see Massive Volumes of Chinese Modules Entering Europe).
With 28.5 GW solar modules imported from China—27% YoY increase, Asia Pacific was more or less a steady market for Chinese manufacturers. Japan’s imports went up 17% to 6.9 GW, followed by Australia whose 4.9 GW volume was 5% less than 5.1 GW it imported in 2021.
A big Asian market for Chinese companies, India secured 8.1 GW volume in Q1/2022, However, with the imposition of 40% basic customs duty (BCD) it took only 800 MW modules by the end of April 2022. Yet, as the analysts state ‘stockpiling in the first quarter made India the largest market in the Asia-Pacific region’.
With a nearly 50% annual increase, the Americas imported 24.8 GW Chinese modules last year. Brazil claimed 80% of this increase thanks to the installation rush following the government’s decision to charge grid-fee from small-scale distributed generation projects.
“Despite the enactment of the law and weakening inventory draws due to inventories piled up in the first half of the year, annual import volume came in at 17.9 GW, a 58% marked increase from 2021’s 11.3 GW, making Brazil the world’s second-largest export market for Chinese modules, second only to the Netherlands, the logistics hub of Europe, accounting for 12% of China’s total module exports,” shared analysts.
Following the rush, monthly import volume in Brazil started coming down at the end of 2022.
UAE (3.6 GW) and Pakistan (2.9 GW) led the Middle East’s 11.4 GW module supply from China with a 78% annual improvement. Saudi Arabia imported 1.2 GW Chinese solar modules in 2022, despite ‘no more than 100 MW of demand in 2021’.
According to InfoLink, as demand further increases in the region, Chinese manufacturers are mulling establishing local supply chain in Saudi Arabia.
Africa imported 3.4 GW modules from China in 2022 with a 36% annual increase.
For Q1/2023, InfoLink expects global demand for Chinese modules to be weak due to seasonality in Europe and piled up inventories from H1/2022. India is likely not on the radar of Chinese companies as of now with the BCD likely to dampen demand.
InfoLink sums up saying, “2022 was a robust year for the PV industry. Whether markets can sustain such high growths rates this year remains in question given much larger numbers of the base period and international trade policies that hold back demand, such as the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act of the US, Brazil’s Law 14.3000, and India’s BCD tariff.