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Yingli Ships Record Number of Panels; Market Awaits 2013 Outlook and Downstream Strategy

Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. (YGE) says its preliminary tally of module shipments in 2012 exceeded 2.2 gigawatts (GW), a record high for the company, roughly a 37% increase from the ~1.6 GW it shipped in 2011. 4Q12 results aren't due until late February 2013, but Yingli now says preliminary data suggests 4Q12 shipments also achieved a new record.

PV shipments actually decreased 17% sequentially in 3Q12, the last official reveal of the company's books. The company, citing "public data," says it is now the global leader in silicon-based PV module shipments.

Yingli wouldn't provide figures about its 2013 expecations, though acknowledged more visibility will be forthcoming in those 4Q12 results. For now, we have to go by what was discussed in the company's 3Q12 presentations. At the time, Robert Petrina, managing director for YGE Americas, described "north of 400 MW of contracted deals" for 2013; Bryan Li, YGE executive director & CFO, suggested that shipments would be higher in the first half of 2013. Darren Thompson, managing director for YGE Europe, noted that "Europe will remain the region of challenges," but pointed to "positive signals" with project connection deadlines in the UK and Spain to meet certifications and feed-in tariff extensions. Li also and suggested that China could rise to be the 2nd-largest market in the world, "even more than Germany."

Meanwhile, when asked then about the company's plans to get into downstream project development, where module-making rivals such as SunPower and First Solar have built up higher-margin revenue streams, YGE chairman/CEO Miao Liansheng admitted that this strategy "will be the trend for the future development of the market," and that YGE wants to make that move in 2H13 and 2014. If that schedule is still valid, YGE likely already has a pretty clear direction about its first steps in that direction, but a YGE rep likewise declined to offer more insight. No doubt investors and analysts will be keen for updates on that strategy during YGE's 4Q12 results presentations as well.

Lead image: Dart hitting target, via Shutterstock

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