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Leading PV firms to boost production as China demand set to double

Shipments to increase by 10 per cent as nation set to become top solar market in 2013

PV production is to increase as demand doubles in China
PV production will increase as demand is set to double in China

The world’s largest solar panel makers are boosting production this year on expectations that demand in China will double, according to reports. The five biggest producers of polysilicon solar modules, led by China’s Suntech and Yingli Green Energy will increase shipments of 27 percent to 37 percent from 2011 levels, according to the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

China’s efforts to stimulate its photovoltaic industry at home and a 48 per cent drop in panel prices in 2011 are boosting sales. The nation will dominate growth this year and become the top solar market in 2013, after European nations cut subsidies for new projects, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

China may install as much as 5.5 GW this year and the same amount in 2013, the London research group estimates.

Shi Zhengrong, Suntech CEO, expects solar sales in China to exceed 4 GW this year, while Gao Jifan, Trina Solar CEO, expects 5 GW of installations. China’s market totaled 2.57 GW in 2011, almost 9 percent of what was sold worldwide, according to New Energy Finance.

The five top companies by shipments of silicon panels last year were Suntech, Yingli, Trina, Canadian Solar and Hanwha SolarOne. They expect combined sales of solar modules this year to range from 9.3 GW to 10.1 GW, compared with 7.4 GW in 2011, according projections made in company statements and compiled by Bloomberg.

“China could be a 5 to 6 GW market this year, maybe even larger,” said Terry Wang, Trina’s chief financial officer. “We could scale quickly,” he said, adding that analysts, “might be underestimating our abilities.”

The Chinese boom “will drive big shipment numbers from Chinese manufacturers, which are the only ones selling there,” said Sean McLoughlin, vice president for clean technology analysis at HSBC Bank Plc in London.

“The Chinese companies are in a better position, due to their cost competitiveness, so they might gain market share,” said Martin Simonek, a solar analyst at New Energy Finance.