Longi has retained the top position in the module shipment ranking for 2021, after it grabbed the top in 2020, according to InfoLink database. Calculation shows that the company shipped more than 10 GW of modules than Trina and JA Solar, which tied for second place. Shipments of manufacturers among the top 5 all exceeded 10 GW.
InfoLink adjusted the ranking, given significant increase in concentration in the module segment in 2021, and ranked the manufacturers within 1% difference in total shipment volume the same position. Trina’s shipments to overseas markets accounted for 65%, an outstanding performance. JA Solar demonstrated its advantage in operation management amid surging costs.
Jinko, having been listed in the second half, climbed to the fourth spot with noticeable increases in shipments, followed by Canadian Solar, Risen, Hanwha Q Cells, First Solar, Suntech, and Astronergy. Manufacturers among the top 10 were basically the same as in 2020. Those that didn’t make the top-10 list shipped an average volume of 3 GW to 4 GW, an increasingly widened gap between manufacturers.
2021 saw high consolidation of manufacturers in the module segment. Vertically integrated companies, which enjoy advantages in costs, capability, and overseas channels, put Tier-2 and 3 module makers under pressure. InfoLink’s calculation suggests the top-10 shipped a total of more than 160 GW of modules, dominating more than 90% of 172.6 GW of demand, far exceeded the previous 70% to 80%. Examining shipments to overseas markets, vertically integrated companies showed significant advantage over other manufacturers in distribution channels, with their market share rising markedly in the second half in regions with higher acceptability for higher prices. Among the top-10 Chinese manufacturers accounted for 70% of overseas shipments in 2021.
In terms of product format, the top 10 manufacturers, excluding First Solar, shipped more than 60 GW of large format modules, according to InfoLink’s calculation. The shipment volume doubled in the second half from the first-half level. The share of large format modules represented around 40% of total shipments by the top-10 (excluding First Solar), meaning that large format has become the mainstream.
Increasingly high concentration will make it even harder to medium and small-sized module makers to survive. As module segment expands along with n-type expansion, some manufacturers have scale cell and module expansion projects. Price war may occur again in the second half, when manufacturers compete to grab market share. Market share aside, medium and small-sized module makers will also face challenges brought by low utilization rates and profits due to raw materials shortage.