BEIJING — Total output value of the PV industry in Jiangsu province, China amounted to 180 billion yuan (approx US$28.9 billion) for the first 10 months of 2012, a year-over-year decrease of 28 percent, according to recently released data. The industry’s total exports reached US$6.89 billion for the same period, down 38 percent when compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. Insiders foresee the industry’s total output value for the whole year of 2012 to decrease by up to 30 percent year over year.
Over half of the province’s PV manufacturers are struggling, and at the same time find themselves saddled with heavy debts – over 50 percent of the firms have ceased production. Publicly available information revealed that Wuxi city-based PV manufacturer Suntech recorded a net loss of US$116 million and total liabilities exceeding US$3.5 billion for the first three quarters of 2012. Another Jiangsu-based PV manufacturer Hareon Solar reported losses of up to 199 million yuan (approx US$31.9 million) and operating revenue of 3.65 billion yuan (approx US$586 million) for the same period, with the latter down 31.7 percent.
An industry insider said in an interview that the depression in the province’s PV industry was mainly attributed to the significantly decreased prices for PV components, the high liability ratio among certain firms, in addition to the above mentioned “exit” of more than half of the producers. The insider also suggested that the province expand PV applications across the country and accelerate a restructuring of the sector through consolidation and by shutting down the makers that don’t have the wherewithal to upgrade their technologies.
Wuxi Suntech signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Jiangsu Phono Solar last May, under which, the two parties would jointly expand the country’s PV power station projects, focusing on co-developing, establishing and investing in large PV stations and rooftop installations.
Solar PV was the province’s first foray into a renewable energy industry and has now formed a complete industry chain, from production of polycrystalline silicon raw materials to establishment of PV power stations. The province is home to many of China’s leading PV manufacturers, including eight manufacturers that have listed on stock exchanges outside of China and five that rank among the world’s top 10 PV manufactures in terms of sales. Two thirds of China’s output value in the PV sector comes from the province.
To get the PV industry back on track and into a growth mode again, the province needs to encourage and support independent innovation and apply core technologies to improve its competitiveness in the PV market, according to an industry insider. Recommendations include establishing special research funds to assist companies, colleges, universities and scientific research institutes in making the needed investments in the research and development of PV technologies, with a focus on the end market.
The province’s capital, Nanjing, recorded a year-over-year decrease of 39 per cent in the PV industry’s core business revenue for 2012, whereas two years earlier, in 2010, the city experienced a year-over-year increase exceeding 100 percent.
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