• New 9th ITRPV Report puts world PV production capacity for modules at over 130 GW and cell production at more than 110 GW by the end of 2017
  • Module price reduction slowed down quite a bit, decreasing to 9% in 2017 compared to about 40% in 2016
  • Without a further increase in the market, PV industry could face critical oversupply of modules
  • But reduced manufacturing costs and increased cell and module performance - as outlined in the report - should “ensure the long-term competitiveness of PV power generation”

The world could be facing an oversupply of PV module and cell production capacity, according to the 9th edition of the International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaic (ITRPV). The mid-March 2017 released report says that at the end of 2017, the global PV module production capacity was over 130 GW and more than 110 GW for cells. This means that module capacity estimated for 2017 represents a 30% increase over the 2016 level of 100 GW estimated in the 8th edition. According to the 9th ITRPV, module shipments were 105 GW in 2017, compared to 76 GW in 2016. The report warns that if capacity expansion continues in 2018 without further market increase, it may lead to a “critical oversupply situation.”

The very detailed ITRPV report, covering the entire c-Si PV value chain, also says that module price reduction was much slower than during 2016. Module prices fell from $0.37/W at the end of 2016 to $0.34/W a year later, which is about 9%, while 2016 saw a significant 40% price reduction.

But it adds that the PV module market increased significantly in 2017 due to improved cell efficiency. “The combination of reduced manufacturing costs and increased cell and module performance will support the reduction of PV system costs and thus ensure the long-term competitiveness of PV power generation.”

Over the next few years, the report says, companies may be able to link cost reduction measures with the implementation of “enhanced cell concepts with improved silicon wafers, cell front and rear sides, refined layouts and improved module technologies.” This could “lead to 60-cell modules with an average output power of about 325  for mc-Si and about 345 W p-type mono-Si respectively by 2028,” the authors note. “By then, 72 cell modules may reach 390 W with mc-Si and 415 W for p-type mono-Si, respectively.”

n_tech_report_ITRPV- Global PV Production Oversupply Warning_2ab 2018-03-16

While the module price fell a little in 2017, primarily due to huge demand from China, the contributions to the final price of the four important processing parts – polysilicon, wafers, cells and modules – changed quite a bit compared to the 2016 reference point. Polysilicon nearly doubled its share to the final price to 23%, from 12%. Wafers and cells went down slightly to 18% and 22%, respectively, from 23%, while module contribution to the final price also went slight down to 37%, from 42% in 2016. The module production part still continues to take the lion’s share of the final module price, which is mainly driven by consumables and materials. Since there is no supply shortage expected for any part of the value chain, ITRPV emphasizes that prices will not compensate for any additional costs, thus the pressure on producers to cut on cost will remain high.

The ITRVP, which is administered and coordinated by VDMA, the German Engineering Federation, puts the crystalline silicon (c-Si) technology market share at above 90%. The roadmap is published every year and is based on input of leading producers of solar products, processing materials and production equipment.