Manufacturers across the PV supply chain released their financial statements for 2021. Five leading vertically integrated companies all posted significant growths in revenues and net profits. This can be largely attributed to increased shipment volumes. Data compiled by InfoLink shows five leading vertically integrated companies shipping 121 GW of modules last year, securing 69% of market share, evincing higher concentration, as compared with 82 GW of module shipments and 59% of market share in 2020.
Despite numbers suggesting stellar performances, gross margin and other indicators dropped from levels in 2020. This indicates how price hikes resulted from disproportionate production capacities across the supply chain affected companies’ operating performances in 2021.
(Operating expense includes sales, management, and R&D expenses)
Source: Xi'an LONGI Silicon Materials Annual Report 2021
In 2021, Longi shipped 38.5 GW of modules, with 37.24 GW of sales volume, a 55.5% of YoY increase, and 70.0 GW of wafer shipments, 33.92 GW of sales volume, a 6.6% YoY increase.
Longi posted RMB 80.9 billion of revenue in 2021, a 48.3% YoY increase on the RMB 54.6 billion in 2020. Overall gross margin came in at 20.2%, a 4.4% decline compared to that in 2020, but still higher than other companies, thanks to wafer businesses that have higher margins. Cell and module segments contributed RMB 58.5 billion, together accounting for 72% of total revenue, with 17.1% of gross margin. Module business saw 61.3% of growth YoY, but gross margin dropped from 20.5% to 17.1% owing to production costs. The wafer segment made 17 billion of revenue, accounting for 21% of the total. With larger bargaining chips against the downstream, wafer gross margin slid from 30.26% to 27.55% amid rapid polysilicon price hikes.
Longi plans 150 GW, 60 GW, and 85 GW of wafer, cell, and module production capacities for 2022. Annual wafer and module shipment volumes are estimated at 90-100 GW and 50-60 GW, respectively.
Source: Trina Solar Co., Ltd. Annual Report 2021
Trina shipped 24.8 GW of modules in 2021, a 58.7% of YoY increase, with 21.1 GW of sales volume. Shipment volume of modules assembled with 210mm cells came in at 16 GW.
In 2021, Trina saw RMB 44.5 billion of revenue, a 51.2% YoY increase. Gross margin dropped from last year’s 16.4% to 13.8%. Module business contributed the most, accounting for 77% of total revenue. Subject to increased production costs, module gross margin decreased from 14.9% in 2020 to 12.4% in 2021.
Trina expects to see 50 GW of cell production capacity, 65 GW of module production capacity, and 43 GW of module shipments by the end of 2022.
Source: JA Solar Technology Co., Ltd. Annual Report 2021
JA Solar shipped 25.5 GW of cells and modules, among which 24.5 GW are modules, with 24.1 GW of sales volume, a 62.8% YoY increase.
JA Solar posted RMB 41.3 billion of revenue in 2021, a 59.8% YoY increase, with module businesses contributing the most, securing 96% of total. As production costs rose faster than revenue, module gross margin dropped from 16.1% to 14.1%.
JA Solar claims to raise module production capacity from 40 GW to beyond 50 GW by the end of this year, whilst sustaining that of wafers and cells at 80% as much as module production capacity. Annual shipment volume is estimated at 35-40 GW.
Source: JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd. Annaul Report 2021
Jinko sold 22.2 GW, 0.9 GW, and 2.2 GW of modules, cells, and wafers in 2021, a 18.5%, 27.9%, and 29.9% YoY increase, respectively.
In 2021, Jinko’s revenue hit RMB 40.6 billion, a 20.5% YoY increase. Module business remained the money-spinner, accounting for 93% of total revenue. Module, cell, and wafer gross margin came in at 13.4%, 2.6%, and 20.8%, respectively. Comparing that with 15.1%, 3.0%, and 10.7% in the same period last year, the wafer gross margin increased, while that of cell and module sectors declined.
Jinko plans to bring wafer, cell, and module production capacities to 50 GW, 40 GW, and 60 GW, respectively, by the end of 2022. The company aims at 35-40 GW of annual shipment volume target.
Exchange rates: 6.376 (FY2021) / 6.525 (FY2020)
Source: Canadian Solar reports fourth quarter and full-year 2021 results
Canadian Solar shipped 14.5 GW of modules in 2021, a 28.3% of YoY increase, among which 870 MW was for in-house production capacity. Annual revenue came in at 33.6 billion, a 48.3% YoY growth. Gross margin dropped from 19.8% in 2020 to 17.2% in 2021. Module business accounted for 63% of total revenue. CSI Solar, with its businesses in PV, ESS, and with China Energy, saw 15.6% of gross margin in 2021, compared to 19.6% in 2020.
For 2022, Canadian Solar expects to see 10.4 GW of ingot capacity, 14.5 GW of wafer slicing capacity, 14.5 GW of cell production capacity, and 32 GW of module production capacity, with 20-22 GW of annual module shipment target.
Cross-supply chain comparisons
Demand for solar energy increases around the globe. With advantages in capital, leading manufacturers secured more market shares, and thus posted markedly increased revenues in 2021. However, gross margin, operation margin and other indicators seemed falling, as compared to levels in 2020. The main reasons behind are price hikes resulted from disproportionate production capacities across the supply chain and China’s energy intensity control imposed in 2021, which sent operation costs on a faster upward trip than growths of revenue.
Financial statements of companies from different sectors show discrepancy among their operating performances. To what extent companies grow vary, despite an overall upside momentum in the PV industry.
Polysilicon price hikes never ceased in 2021, thanks to year-long supply lag. Mono-grade polysilicon prices surged by nearly 200%, pushing up gross margin significantly. Tongwei, Daqo, and other Tier-1 manufacturers posted gross margin higher than 60%, far higher than last year’s level. The wafer sector, with greater bargaining chips against the downstream, raised prices by over 50%, in response to higher polysilicon costs. Overall wafer gross margin came in at 20-30%.
Cell and module sectors were the most hard-hit amid supply chain price hikes in 2021. Given rapid and large-scale production expansions, cell and module supplies exceeded demand evidently. As a result, cell and module makers could not raise prices in tandem with the upstream sectors, posting around 20% of price increases in 2021, much lower than upstream. Add to that, BOM prices and logistics costs rose, dragging down operating performances. Vertically integrated companies managed to keep gross margin above 10%, while professional manufacturers, with limited profitability, failed to do so.
In 2021, operating performance of a PV manufacturer hinged on its production arrangement. Companies involved in upstream businesses or with vertical integration received less impacts from supply chain price hikes, while those focuses solely on the downstream were worse affected, as subjected to greater production cost increases.
Outlook for 2022
As global demand for renewables increases, InfoLink projects the world to have 223-248 GW of module demand this year. Therefore, it is still likely for manufacturers to see further revenue increases.
As of today, disproportionate production capacities across the supply chain push up polysilicon and wafer prices, which stay elevated with fair gross margin amid slow production expansions and robust downstream demand.
In the downstream, cell and module makers were faced with lofty production costs and limited price increases. Meanwhile, BOM price hikes resulted from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the pandemic-induced logistical logjams, and other uncertainties posed significant challenges throughout the year.