Global marketExport data from the China Customs compiled by InfoLink shows that China exported 9.6 GW, 14.0 GW, and 13.6 GW of modules respectively in the first three months of the year, totaling 37.2 GW of export volume in the first quarter this year, a 112% of YoY increase, with the figure doubling every month. In addition to the continual pursuit for energy transition, the first quarter’s growth can be attributed to Europe, which accelerates the roll-out of renewable energy sources on the back of Russian’s war on Ukraine, and India, where Basic Customs Duty starts taking effect from April onwards.
Europe has always been the largest export market for China. The bloc imported 16.7 GW of Chinese module in the first quarter this year, translating to a 145% YoY increase compared to last year’s 6.8 GW, the biggest growth among any other regions.
Europe has been working actively on renewable energies, with member countries introducing supportive policies successively, and new governments ramping up renewable developments. Recently, the Russia-Ukraine conflict forces European countries to accelerate their policy frameworks. To wean themselves off Russian oil and natural gas, countries devise more urgent plans for renewables. Germany posted the fastest progress. The energy-intensive nation brings forward the time for renewables to cover all electricity consumption to 2035, pushing up demand for PV modules this year and in the future.
With strong demand for renewables, Europe has wider acceptance for module price hikes. Thanks to that, European demand for PV products sustain and advance every month in the first quarter, during which supply chain prices ceaselessly rose. For now, countries having imported GWs of Chinese modules include the Netherlands, Spain, and Poland.
The Asia-Pacific region is the second largest export market for Chinese modules. In the first quarter, export volume from China to the Asia-Pacific surged, reaching 11.9 GW for the time being, indicating a 143% YoY increase. Different from Europe, the growth is chiefly contributed by one single market, India, despite some increases in other Asian countries. India imported 8.1 GW of modules from China in the first quarter, a 429% marked increase on last year’s 1.5 GW. The robust demand is largely attributed to imposition of the BCD in April, with 25% of tariff rate on cells, and 40% on modules. Manufacturers scrambled to import Chinese modules before the BCD took effect, resulting in the unprecedented growth.
However, Indian demand is expected to wane as the BCD came into effect. India along accounts for 68% of imports in the Asia-Pacific in the first quarter. Against these backdrops, the Asia-Pacific may see evident decline in the second quarter but remain the world’s second largest import market for Chinese modules. As of the first quarter, Asia-Pacific countries having imported GWs of Chinese modules include India, Japan, and Australia.
Americas, Middle East, and Africa
In the first quarter this year, the Americas, the Middle East, and Africa each imported 6.1 GW, 1.7 GW, and 0.8 GW of modules from China, translating to 63%, 6%, and 61% of YoY increases. Growths were evident in Americas and Africa. In the Americas, Brazil, with great PV demand, remained the main driving force. The country imported 4.9 GW of modules from China in the first quarter, an 84% increase on last year’s 2.6 GW. Thanks to exemption for imported PV products, Brazil continues to be the third largest market for Chinese modules. However, the country will charge grid fees for distributed generation projects from 2023 onwards, possibly spurring demand as the BCD did.
As awareness deepens for energy transition and CSRs, demand for renewables expands across the globe, boosting the development of PV energy. Latest forecast of InfoLink put the world’s demand for non-China modules at 140-150 GW, or 160 GW in the optimistic scenario. In 2022, Chinese modules will be exported mostly to Europe, which moves the fastest towards energy transition, the Asia-Pacific region, and Brazil, where import volume exceeded the GW-threshold every month in the first quarter.
Outlook is bright for markets worldwide. However, it is to be heeded as of whether disproportionate upstream-downstream production capacity, as well as supply chain price hikes and logistical logjams induced by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, will put off the more price-sensitive distributed generation, and whether international trade barriers have direct impacts on annual PV demand in 2022.