Chinese module suppliers see short-term pain, long-term gain

In spite of recent troubles in the PV industry, many suppliers see the potential growth as very strong, which will help the industry long-term.

09/30/2011


I was lucky enough to attend Suntech’s 10th Anniversary Celebrations in Wuxi this week and witnessed first-hand the company’s (and country’s) ambitious plans in the PV industry in future, highlighted by the inauguration of their huge new facility in the city.

Around 500 people gathered at the invite-only event at a nearby hotel and joined in a huge banquet and celebration that included all of Suntech’s senior management as well as customers, partners and just a few people that had nothing to do with the PV industry at all. What really struck me at the event was how positive they all were – amazing considering the current industry conditions and continual bad news that’s hampered the industry almost the whole year.

Suntech Founder and CEO Dr. Zhengrong Shi described the PV market as “being in winter” but was adamant that “spring would arrive soon”. Quite simply the attitude in the huge forum could be summarized as “We know the industry is suffering, but it’s a short-term problem. We know there is too much capacity, but we’ll still need more in future to conquer the industry”.

You could consider this attitude as cavalier, but frankly I found it a refreshing change. Amidst all the doom and gloom surrounding the PV industry as companies see prices and margins plummet, it’s important to look back at what the industry has achieved so far. As I pointed out in my opening presentation at the event’s ‘market forum’, when Suntech entered the PV market in 2001, annual installations were just 350MW. Prices were nearly five times higher and just a handful of suppliers were active. Now in 2011, 10 years on, we’ll likely see installations reach 23GW – 65 times larger than 2001, which has created hundreds of thousands of jobs (and not all of them in China) and allowed prices to fall to a level at which PV is on the brink of the mainstream.

Profile photo of Ash Sharma, senior research director for photovolatics at IMS Research. Courtesy: IMS ResearchSo despite the recent slowdown in demand and the several on-going difficulties the industry is facing, many of the people at the event were still very positive and still extremely ambitious. Many talked about changing China from being a production base for PV, to one for actual PV deployment. Some in fact even suggested China would install 3GW of capacity this year and would not be beaten to the number one spot by the USA in future years. I’m very positive about China’s future deployment plans and the country has certainly changed from just big talk to making real big progress, but even our most optimistic forecasts wouldn’t see 3GW being added to China this year – but I’d happily be proved wrong and I’m sure many others would too!



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Controller programming; Safety networks; Enclosure design; Power quality; Safety integrity levels; Increasing process efficiency
Additive manufacturing benefits; HMI and sensor tips; System integrator advice; Innovations from the industry
Robotic safety, collaboration, standards; DCS migration tips; IT/OT convergence; 2017 Control Engineering Salary and Career Survey
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This article collection contains several articles on how automation and controls are helping human-machine interface (HMI) hardware and software advance.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.

(copy 5)

click me