Cell shipments grew while top 5 remains unchanged
In the first half of 2023, Tongwei and Aiko remained in the top two spots. Solar Space climbed to the third place with a slight lead. Runergy fell to the fourth and Jietai stayed in the fifth place. The top remains the same this year.
The top five manufacturers together shipped 84.4 GW of cells in the first half, up 49% compared to the same period last year and account for 72% of their annual shipment in 2022.
As PERC cell capacity was still coming online last year while product format was transitioning, some planned capacities couldn’t reach full capacity. As of early 2023, most of the PERC lines have finished transitioning and debugging, which, doubled with tight supply of PERC cells in the first half of the year, the top five manufacturers’ shipment increased significantly despite higher self-consumption ratio and manufacturer’s individual network deployment of module channels.
PERC remains mainstream while TOPCon on the rise
InfoLink’s calculation shows that shipment volume of PERC cells reached 73.2 GW in the first half, with PERC accounting for the majority. TOPCon cell volume is slowly increasing, with the top five having shipped a cumulative volume of 10.5 GW. Shipment volumes of HJT and back-contact cells are minor as they were mostly made for self-consumption. Multi-Si cells accounted for a small portion of the market share in the first half, with its products exported mainly to countries such as India and Turkey.
In terms of format, M10 and G12 cells dominated the top five’s shipments, with the former accounting for 75% and the latter taking up 21% of the total volume. Share of M6 and smaller cells shrank rapidly to around 4% in the top five’s shipments, supplying mainly overseas markets.
Competition among cell manufacturers intensified in the second half
The supply-demand relationship was not the only factor affecting the cell sector in the first half. At the beginning of this year, price drop in the upstream sectors caused cell prices to decline. However, the mismatch between supply and demand of M10 and G12 cells as well as n-type and p-type cells led to price hikes. This allows profits to gradually recover, with mainstream products generating more than 30% of gross margin in the middle of the year.
As most TOPCon expansion projects are getting off the ground during the third and fourth quarter, the nameplate TOPCon capacity may reach 700 GW, bringing the total capacity to nearly 1200 GW, including the existing 500 GW PERC capacity. The huge capacity will reshape the cell sector. As manufacturers bring TOPCon capacity online at a faster pace in the second half, competition will intensify at the end of the year.
Capacity competition aside, price war will also impact cell makers’ profit. Amid fierce competition, new entrants should be aware of their market position and utilize product differentiation to gain a solid footing.