Author Kyle Lin
Updated January 30, 2024

China exported 16.2 GW of modules in December 2023, an 8.6% decrease from November’s 17.7 GW but a 50% year-on-year increase. Despite the inventory accumulation this year, markets sustained imports in the fourth quarter at the same or slightly lower levels than in the past three quarters. With Europe and the U.S. entering the traditional low season in the fourth quarter, India and Brazil became the major driving forces behind global module imports. In 2023, the world imported 208 GW of modules, a 34% year-on-year increase from 2022's 154.8 GW.

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In December, Europe imported about 5 GW of modules from China, a 4% month-on-month increase from November's 4.9 GW but a 14% year-on-year decrease, aligned with previous forecast. In 2023, Europe imported 101.5 GW of modules from China, 17% more than 2022's 86.6 GW. The quarterly import volumes from the first to the last quarter were 29.5 GW, 32.9 GW, 22.9 GW, and 16.1 GW, respectively.

Module imports to Europe decrease considerably amid the traditional low season in the fourth quarter, primarily due to inventory accumulation resulting from substantial draws in early 2023. Although remaining at a higher level, inventory depletes quickly, as some countries have started redirecting exports to other markets and distributors become more intent on procuring, given geopolitical risks from the Red Sea issue. As of the end of December 2023, some module makers saw inventory levels nearly halved compared to October.

Rapid inventory depletion will prompt Europe to restock in advance. Since China-Europe shipping time has extended to 10 to 15 days, modules exported at the end of last year should arrive in Europe in the first quarter of 2024. Moreover, Europe has been mainly importing TOPCon modules since the end of 2023. The transition will sustain import volumes. Against these backdrops, imports to Europe will not see a significant leap in the first quarter of 2024 as in the same period last year but may maintain the same or fall marginally lower than in the low season of the fourth quarter of 2023. However, electricity prices dropped to a relatively low point of EUR 84/MWh last December, possibly affecting the demand for residential PV.

In mid-January, spot FOB prices for TOPCon modules came in at the same range as in December 2023 at USD 0.11-0.13/W, while the average FOB prices decreased slightly from USD 0.13/W to USD 0.12/W. Module prices keep reaching new lows and will see limited room for further declines. Module makers consider adjusting CIF, DDP, and DAP prices for exports to Europe, given brewing supply chain price hikes and freight rates rising to EUR 0.011-0.015/W as of mid-January.

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The Asia-Pacific market imported approximately 6.6 GW of modules from China in December, a nearly 19% decrease from November's 8.1 GW and a significant 206% year-on-year increase. The region imported 53.9 GW of modules from China in 2023, 71% more than 2022's 31.5 GW, indicating substantial growth in PV demand. The quarterly import volumes from the first to the last quarter were 9.5 GW, 9.1 GW, 14.8 GW, and 20.5 GW, respectively.

India remained the biggest importing country of the Asia-Pacific market in December 2023, importing around 2.9 GW of Chinese modules, indicating a sustained import momentum despite a roughly 35% decrease from November's 3.9 GW. India imported 9 GW of modules from China in the fourth quarter of 2023, making up 62% of the country’s annual import volume of 14.5 GW. The increase was attributed not only to the demand from utility-scale projects but also to Indian developers stockpiling in anticipation of the ALMM to take effect in April 2024. In late 2023, cell and module imports rose drastically and will continue the momentum in January and February.

In mid-January, the Indian government stated that it has no plan to postpone the implementation of the ALMM, which it promised will come into force on March 31. However, authorities have yet to specify whether the eligibility for exemption would be based on "commissioned" or "placed orders." If the latter is chosen, a shipment surge will be seen by the end of March. However, further observations are needed once the official details are released.

As the ALMM benefits domestic manufacturers, local production capacity may start operation in the first half of this year. Meanwhile, India was the biggest market for Chinese cells, importing 1.5 GW in December 2023, a 25% month-on-month increase from November's 1.2 GW. More accurate import volume projections for the first quarter will be perceptible after the official announcement of ALMM details.


The Americas imported 2.7 GW of modules from China in December 2023, a 13% month-on-month decrease from November's 3.1 GW but a 64% year-on-year increase. The region imported 30.2 GW of modules from China in 2023, 22% more than 2022's 24.8 GW. Quarterly import volumes from the first to the last quarter were 7.6 GW, 6.7 GW, 7.7 GW, and 8.1 GW, respectively.

Brazil remained the biggest importing country in the region in December 2023, importing 2.1 GW, nearly on par with the import volume from November, accounting for around 80% of the region’s total import volume. In 2023, the region imported 20.6 GW of Chinese modules, 15% more than 2022's 17.9 GW. As in November 2023, imports were sustained in December thanks to Law 14.300 boosting demand for distributed PV and the 9.6% import duty starting early this year that brought forward an installation rush.

Weakening demand from distribution projects subsiding as the installation deadline under Law 14.300 expired will affect, imports to Brazil in the first quarter of this year. Despite the removal of some modules from the ex-tariff list and the imposition of the 9.6% import tariff, the overall cost will not increase significantly, thanks to recently low module prices and the duty-free tariff rate quota the Executive Management Committee (Gecex) established for the market to adapt. Stronger demand from utility-scale ground-mounted projects and ongoing construction of utility-scale projects in late 2023 can lead to potential growth in the country’s module demand from centralized generation projects.

Middle East and Africa

The Middle East imported 1.5 GW of modules from China in December 2023, a 25% month-on-month increase from November’s 1.2 GW and a 95% year-on-year increase. The region imported 14.5 GW of modules from China in 2023, a significant increase of 73% from 2022's 8.4 GW. Quarterly volumes from the first to the last quarter were 2.6 GW, 3.3 GW, 4.4 GW, and 4.1 GW, respectively.

Saudi Arabia imported the most in the Middle East, with the import volume in December reaching 1.1 GW, representing 73% of the region's demand and a 123% rebound from November's 492 MW. In 2023, Saudi Arabia imported 7.7 GW of modules from China, mostly in the second half of the year, a drastic 542% increase from 2022's 1.2 GW. The primary driver for this growth was the release of utility-scale project tenders that stimulated PV demand.

Furthermore, Chinese manufacturers, including Jinko and GCL, formed strategic collaborations with the Saudi government and local developers, reaching cooperation on multiple projects and engaging in industrial layouts to attain the 2030 goals outlined in "Saudi Vision 2030" for a cumulative installation of 40 GW. In 2024m imports will sustain growth, thanks to utility-scale tenders and policy incentives.

Africa imported 407 MW of modules from China in December 2023, a 21% month-on-month decrease compared to November’s 513 MW but an 8% year-on-year increase. In 2023, Africa imported 7.9 GW of module imports from China, a 132% growth from 2022’s 3.4 GW. Quarterly import volumes from the first to the last quarter were 1.7 GW, 3.2 GW, 1.8 GW, and 1.4 GW, respectively. South Africa and Egypt, the major markets in Africa, saw a month-on-month decrease in December 2023. Egypt imported 98 MW and South Africa 76 MW, a nearly 42% month-on-month decrease compared with November’s 132 MW.

South Africa imported 5.3 GW of Chinese modules in 2023, among which, 3.2 GW was imported in the first half of the year, primarily due to policy incentives and reform measures. Demand from distributed generation projects grew nearly 3.5 times. In the first quarter of 2024, the absence of evident improvement in infrastructure and green energy purchasing progress will limit the increase in imports. Fortunately, the South African government announced to initiate the seventh round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP) by the end of last year, including 1.8 GW of PV installations, which is likely to bring demand this year.

In 2023, all five major regional markets imported more Chinese modules. The total volume reached 208 GW, a 34% increase from 2022's 155 GW, with the African market experiencing the most significant growth.

In the first quarter of this year, the industry was relatively weak as the oversupply and slowdown in demand continued in the PV market. Additionally, Chinese manufacturers reduced production during the Lunar New Year holiday; the output in February would likely be at least 17% lower than in January, affecting shipments in the first quarter.

Europe has shown signs of restocking in the first quarter, sustaining import volume from the fourth quarter of 2023 but not likely to see another influx of Chinese modules. India’s module demand is subject to potential stockpiling activity in January and February and details of the ALMM, which have yet to be announced. Brazil is likely to maintain demand despite the initiation of import tariffs with the duty-free tariff rate quota and potential support from local centralized generation projects.

The ongoing Red Sea crisis sent international freight rates up over 300%. However, its influence on the supply chain remains unclear, with varying factors still at play.

Overall, weakening demand will restrain imports of Chinese modules in the first quarter of this year. Quarterly import volumes may remain at last quarter’s level or fall slightly lower. Import volumes in the first half of this year depend on the peak season in the second quarter, but the market will be rather sluggish than the same period last year.

InfoLink launches an updated version of its Supply Chain Utilization Rate Report.

The updated report features interactive charts for comparing the latest utilization rates, enabling a faster and clearer understanding of capacity utilization status of the solar industry.

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InfoLink launches an updated version of its Supply Chain Utilization Rate Report.

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