Data compiled by InfoLink show China exported 14.3 GW of PV modules in August, a 54% YoY increase. Cumulative PV module export volume during January and August reached 108 GW, 96% larger than the 55.4 GW in the same period last year, exceeding the 88.8 GW of total export volume in 2021.
Chinese module export surged but, as InfoLink expected last month, has been losing momentum due to supply chain price hikes and waning inventory draws overseas. Having been declining each month, China module export volume hit negative growth in August with a 9% decrease from a month earlier. Month-on-month import volume growth in all major markets also turned negative.
Europe imported 8.6 GW of modules from China in August, a 73% YoY increase but a 5% MoM decrease. It has imported 60.1 GW of module this year, 127% more than last year’s level.
The bloc remains one of the biggest PV markets. This year, as regional conflicts send prices skyrocketing for natural gas and coal, renewable energy becomes even more attractive. However, module demand has cooled, which can be attributed to two to three months of installation delays due to shortages of labor and IGBT chip, an essential component of inverters. Another reason is that manufacturers have built up inventories in advance. Biggest importers, such as the Netherlands, Spain, and Poland, all posted negative MoM import volume growth. With Russia’s sabotaging of Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline, it is to be heeded whether Europe will see another rush of inventory draws before winter arrives.
The Asia-Pacific region imported 1.9 GW of modules, 8% YoY and 3% MoM decreases. The region has imported 21.1 GW of modules this year, 48% more than last year’s level.
China’s module export volume to the Asia Pacific saw more significant fluctuations in April, when India imposed the BCD tariff, and stabilized afterwards, with increases milder than other markets. Biggest importers in the region includes Japan, the Philippines, and Malaysia. Australia’s import volume decreased. Compared with other regions, where import volumes of most countries declined, the Asia-Pacific saw varying conditions across countries, thus smaller changes overall.
The Americas imported 2.4 GW of modules in August, a 59% YoY increase, but a 9% MoM decrease. The continent has imported 17.2 GW of modules this year, not only a 98% YoY increase, but also surpasses last year’s 16.6 GW of total import volume.
Major markets, such as Chile, Mexico, and Colombia, posted negative MoM import volume growth in August. The biggest importer, Brazil, stands out with continually increasing import volume. This may be the result of the grid fee Brazil will charge distributed generation projects next year. Brazil’s module demand is expected to sustain until the end of the year.
Middle East and Africa
The Middle East imported 1.1 GW of modules, a 100% YoY increase, but a 31% MoM decrease. The decrease is larger than that in other regions. The UAE’s import volume continues to grow, whereas other major markets’ MoM import growth turned negative, such as Pakistan, Israel, and Lebanon. For now, the Middle East has imported 8.2 GW of modules this year, 88% more than last year’s level.
Africa imported 0.3 GW of module from China in August, a 42% YoY increase, but a 25% MoM increase. Its cumulative import volume is 2.2 GW, 25% more than the same period last year.
Module prices in overseas markets have stabilized over the past few months. Doubled with roll-out energy transition policies worldwide and surging generation cost of traditional energy, module export volume rose markedly.
However, in the second half of the year, against the backdrop of rising dollar, manufacturers building up stock of inventory ahead of time, and continued labor and material shortage, inventory draws of overseas markets wane, with most regions importing less than in the first half.
As the year nears its end, in addition to Chinese ground-mounted projecting that must be initiated, overseas markets are a vital shipping channels for Chinese manufacturers as well. Whether inventory draws of overseas markets will recover by the end of the year hinges on:
- Whether labor and material shortages in Europe can be resolved and whether cost of traditional energy will rise amid diminishing natural gas supply.
- Project developers make the most use of time for construction before winter arrives. For example, snow will disrupt construction in Europe.
- Installation rush of some countries prior to the target deadlines set at the end of the year. For instance, Brazil will start charging distributed generation projects with a grid fee in 2023.
China may export record-high volume of modules by the end of the year, if demand overseas increases again.