(Yicai Global) July 11 — Chinese solar power equipment providers could gain from Europe’s transition toward renewable energy, accelerated by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, according to several executives.
The European Union upgraded its photovoltaics installation target higher from that of last year, Cai Jianhua, strategy director at an international business unit of Zhejiang province-based Chint Electrics, said to Yicai Global in an interview. By 2025, the EU’s capacity will reach 320 gigawatts, and the target is 600 GW by 2030, according to Cai.
Where local solar panel manufacturers fall short of output, Chinese suppliers see a window of opportunity. “We are replenishing the supply in European markets,” Zhang Yong, chairman of Aiswei Technology, told Yicai Global. As soon as new deliveries arrive, the goods are basically flying off the shelves, he added. Aiswei makes PV inverters that convert direct current to alternating current, a process needed to transfer electricity to the grid.
In certain areas of Europe, Aiswei’s products meant for residential use are in short supply, Zhang learned from his European friends. “You already cannot book them for this year.”
Solar power was trending in Europe even before the Russia-Ukraine conflict caused supply disruptions of natural gas and raised energy prices. Last year, the EU added 25.9 GW of PV installation capacity, up 34 percent from 2020, according to a report from SolarPower Europe. Europe imported 40.9 GW of PV modules from Chinese firms last year, a 54 percent gain from 2020, according to Chinese customs data.
German, Italy, and Spain are the top three PV markets in Europe. Spain particularly has been making some quick moves as the southern European country doubled its 2022 target to 8 GW from 4 GW in 2021. By 2030, its total capacity should reach 39.2 GW.
Much of the added supply is coming from China. In the first five months of this year, some 34 GW of solar modules were exported from China to Europe, more than doubling from a year ago, according to China’s customs. In May, exports popped 15 percent to 9 GW from April.
There are shortages of inverters, modules, and other PV equipment in Europe, said Zhang Kun, executive president of GCL System Integration Technology. Spot goods are from 3 to 5 percent more expensive than future orders.
Longi Green Energy Technology will actively seize opportunities of rising local needs, an executive from the Chinese solar module giant said during a recent investor meeting. Longi will increase its shipments to European markets after its market share reached about 28 percent in 2021.
In the first quarter, Longi’s module shipments tallied 6.4 GW, the executive said. China is the biggest market for the firm with a share of 32 percent, followed by Europe at 27 percent and India at 18 percent.
European profit margins are attractive. Chinese inverter firm GoodWe Technologies revealed that its gross margin in Europe is 47 percent whereas its overall margin is just 31 percent. Revenues from Europe made up 30 percent of the company’s total in 2021. Another Shanghai-listed inverter maker, Hoymiles Power Electronics, said its corresponding number in Europe was as high as 58 percent. Meanwhile, its general gauge of profitability was nearly 43 percent.
Editors: Tang Shihua, Emmi Laine, Xiao Yi