Date January 15, 2024
InfoLink Consulting attended by invitation the "2024 JA Solar Ecological Circle Annual Meeting & New Product Launch Conference" on January 6. Senior Solar Analyst Dora Zhao (趙延慧) of InfoLink shared industry insights and prospects for 2024 with JA Solar executives, industry experts, etc., exploring challenges and seeking breakthroughs.

The PV industry achieved historically explosive growth in 2023, said Zhao, with the median module demand reaching 450 GW, a remarkable 47% growth from 2022, marking a milestone for the development of the PV industry. Zhao expected to see a growth as strong in 2024 and continue at a slower pace of around 11% in 2025. In 2024, global module demand may reach 460-519 GW. 

According to statistics of InfoLink, regional module demand in 2024 will be as follows: China, the largest market, will likely lead with 240 GW, followed by Europe with 115 GW, and the U.S. with 52 GW, under an optimistic forecast. India and Brazil, the prospering emerging markets, will have 20 GW and 14 GW of annual module demand, respectively, while the rest of the world have nearly 80 GW. Noteworthy markets with great potential include Saudi Arabia, South Africa, etc.

Zhao broke down the production capacity of the four main sectors in recent years and polysilicon, wafer, cell, and module sectors all experienced moderate growth from 2018 to 2020. During 2021 and 2022, polysilicon and wafer production capacities reached historical highs. In 2023, cell and module production capacities increased at a historically high annual growth rate of over 100%, with the cell sector witnessing scale-level growth. 

With a technological revolution underway for the higher-efficiency n-type technology, the share of n-type modules in the total production volume has increased significantly since the second half of 2023 from 10-11% in early that year to peak at 52% in December, after over 20% of growth rate since the third quarter. Based on the data, Zhao expected the share of n-type wafers in the total production volume to reach 70% or higher in 2024.

As for the current development and future trends of high-efficiency cells, Zhao estimated 159 GW of xBC planned production capacity, 423 GW HJT, 512 GW PERC, and 1,766 GW for the high-profile TOPCon. The numbers are indicators for cell manufacturers’ assessments and projections of future market development.

Technology iteration facilitates high-efficiency modules’ rise to the mainstream. In 2023, PERC modules still took up a market share of 70% in 2023. The figure may drop markedly to 20-30% in 2024 as higher-efficiency, more competitive products erode their presence. In 2024, the top five leading companies will likely maintain high market shares, posing severe challenges to their Tier-2 peers.

During the panel discussion, Zhao, on behalf of a third-party institution, shared her views on the prospects of the Chinese PV market. She believed the overall demand to slow down in the coming two to three years, but the potential and the scale of China’s PV market are not to be underestimated. Still, such an environment will be a test for the financing capability and capital utilization of manufacturers.

Zhao pointed out that many companies have been working with intelligent manufacturing, digital intelligence, and robot applications, earlier involvement in which allows businesses, especially manufacturers, to lead with first-mover advantage. 

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