China’s PV products gain popularity overseas

(People's Daily Online) 15:29, February 22, 2023

China’s exports of photovoltaic (PV) products rose by 67.8 percent year on year in 2022.

Exports of solar products, together with electric vehicles and lithium batteries, led the country’s list of high-tech and high-value exports that promote green energy transition last year, according to Li Xingqian, director general of the Ministry of Commerce’s Department of Foreign Trade.

Photo taken on March 25, 2022 shows silicon wafers at a monocrystalline silicon solar cell factory of LONGi Green Energy Technology Co., Ltd. in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province. (Xinhua/Shao Rui)

Data from the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA) showed that the country’s total exports of PV products, including silicon wafers, cells and modules, reached $51.25 billion, up 80.3 percent year on year in 2022. Among them, the export of PV modules reached a record 153.6 gigawatts (GW), an increase of 55.8 percent year on year.

Jinko Solar Co., Ltd., a leading Chinese solar panel manufacturer, has topped module shipments globally for several years. “We have over 3,000 clients in more than 160 countries and regions around the world. Our module shipments in 2022 exceeded 44 GW,” said Wei Tian, director of the company’s investor relations.

China’s exports of PV products to Europe surged by 114.9 percent in 2022 from a year earlier, according to the CPIA. In terms of module exports, the Netherlands was China’s top export market ,while Poland and Portugal were in the top 10. Meantime, China’s silicon wafers and cells were mainly exported to Asia.

Zhang Kun, executive president of GCL System Integration Technology Co., Ltd. (GCL SI), a PV company in China, said Europe is the company’s main export market, and also operates in countries like Brazil, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina.

China's photovoltaic industry initially relied on imported technologies and equipment to produce products, most of which were sold overseas. In 2008, the demand for photovoltaic products in the global market fell sharply impacted by the global financial crisis. In 2012, some countries launched anti-dumping and countervailing measures against China’s photovoltaic industry, which hit the industry hard. Weak external demand and insufficient domestic supply had stagnated the photovoltaic industry.

In 2013, China rolled out policies to support and regulate the PV industry, including expanding the domestic market, improving technologies, accelerating industrial transformation and upgrading, and gaining a share in the global market in terms of PV products.

A staff member works at a monocrystalline silicon solar cell factory of LONGi Green Energy Technology Co., Ltd. in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, March 25, 2022. (Xinhua/Shao Rui)

“The policies have injected vitality into China’s PV industry. In the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020), the shipment of domestic polycrystalline silicon, silicon wafers, cells and modules took a big share of the global market,” said Shi Jingli, a researcher at the Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission.

Meanwhile, Chinese PV companies have endeavored to improve technologies to reduce costs and increase production efficiency. Thanks to continuous technological innovation and evolution, the cost of PV generation per kilowatt-hour has been lowered by more than 80 percent over the past 10 years.

Staying committed to technological innovation is the reason why China has become a dominant player in the global PV industry, Wei said, noting that the country has achieved constant progress in PV technologies, and made greater use of domestically developed key equipment and main auxiliary materials.

The industrial and supply chains of China’s PV industry have gained a competitive edge in the global market, and the country’s PV industry has embarked on a market-oriented development path driven by technologies and policies, said Shi.

However, Chinese exports of PV products have been challenged by some countries’ trade barriers and some places’ measures to protect local PV facility manufacturers.

“The obvious competitive advantages of China’s PV products in the global market can be mainly attributed to a complete industrial chain and technological innovation,” Shi said, suggesting focusing on technology research and development and leveraging the advantages in costs and technological innovation to continue promoting the exports of clean and high-quality Chinese PV products. 

(Web editor: Hongyu, Du Mingming)


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