Author Richard Chen
Updated June 01, 2023

Chinese Customs data show the nation exported 18 GW of module exports in April, down 14.8% from the previous month's 21.2 GW but a 53% year-on-year increase, higher than export volumes in January and February, even surpassing the peak in July last year. From January to April, China exported 69 GW of modules, a 41% year-on-year increase, indicating the rapid growth of shipments in 2023.

230601_InfoLink_China module export 202304_en_1


Europe imported 10.6 GW of modules from China in April, a 15.2% month-on-month decline, but still a 36% increase compared to the same month last year. Module imports from China have accumulated to 40 GW this year, accounting for 40% of the country's module exports so far, making Europe the largest overseas market for China.

The first quarter is usually a low season in Europe, but the market imported 29.5 GW of modules in the first quarter of 2023. Despite the rapid growth at the beginning of the year significantly affecting module makers’ shipping plans, the market’s limited consumption ability lead to concerns about inventory accumulation. Even though April saw a month-on-month decline in imports, the volume is still much higher than in the same period last year. It remains obscure whether the market has started to import less due to inventory concerns.

230601_InfoLink_China module export-europe 202304_en_1

Asia Pacific

The Asia-Pacific market imported 3.1 GW of modules from China in April, down 19% from 3.9 GW in March, and up 104% from the same period last year.

In April 2022, the module imports from China to India dropped sharply due to the implementation of the Basic Customs Duty (BCD). Excluding the impact of the tariff, the Asia-Pacific market imported 3 GW in April this year, a 97% year-on-year. As of this April, India accumulated about 1.7 GW of Chinese modules, indicating that the overall price decline has started to boost local projects.

Australia and Japan are two major markets in the Asia-Pacific region other than India. With well-established PV industries, demand in both countries is steady, even picking up slightly this year.  From January to April, Japan imported 2.1 GW of modules from China, while Australia imported 1.9 GW.

230601_InfoLink_China module export-asia&pacific 202304_en_1


The Americas imported 2.4 GW of modules from China in April, a 22% month-on-month decrease but a 218% year-on-year increase. 

Brazil, a major source of demand in the Americas, imported about 1.47 GW of Chinese modules in April, down 26.4% compared to the previous month. From January to April, the country's cumulative imports of Chinese modules reached 6.6 GW, up 10.4% compared to the same period last year. The massive demand in Brazil since last year can be attributed to the new electricity framework that came into effect in January this year, which discourages the development of distributed projects and prompted a surge in local installations.  This year, in addition to the substantial demand for module imports stemming from pending rooftop projects due to institutional changes, demand from ground-mounted projects picks up as prices begin to fall across the supply chain. However, the surge in imports has left Brazil facing high inventory levels as the European market does. The month-on-month decline in April was more pronounced and may represent a slowdown in Brazil's inventory draw. 

Besides Brazil, Chile has been the second-largest source of demand in South America since the beginning of the year. As end users initiated ground-mounted projects, the country imported 526 MW of modules from China in April, bringing the cumulative total since January to 1.5 GW, a more substantial increase compared to the previous year.

230601_InfoLink_China module export-americas 202304_en_1

Middle East and Africa

The Middle East market imported about 950 MW of Chinese modules in April, a slight month-on-month decrease of 5% but a 67% year-on-year increase. Since January, the region has imported 3.6 GW of modules from China. 

In recent years, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been the countries with impressive growth in PV demand in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, in particular, has seen the most prominent demand so far, importing 404 MW of modules from China in April, accounting for nearly 42% of the Middle East market. To achieve its 70% renewable energy target, the country's Public Investment Fund (PIF) has contracted numerous large projects, mainly ground-mounted projects, which will continue to generate significant demand.

The African market imported 970 MW of modules from China in April, of which South Africa accounted for 760 MW, making it the main source of demand in the region. South Africa has long been suffering from power shortages, and the government has implemented load shedding as a temporary and regional solution. While residents have turned to self-sufficient residential PV installations to tackle the electricity issue, the government also launched subsidies to promote PV development this year, making the country another rapidly emerging market other than Saudi Arabia.

Overall, module incensory draws overseas in April showed a decline compared to March, reflecting inventory concerns due to the large number of overseas imports in the first quarter. Still, there was still substantial growth compared to 2022 in terms of monthly import volumes in each market. InfoLink believes that it is currently difficult to determine the future trend. If overseas markets sustain such rapid growth in the coming months, global PV market will experience unexpected growth in 2023, demonstrating that manufacturers keep increasing production capacity, pushing up shipping goals under fierce competition. Meanwhile, if the inventory draws overseas weaken in the coming months, it proves that the significant imports in the first quarter did create consumption issues in markets such as Brazil and Europe.

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