TrendForce | News Release — Due to increases in both shipments and conversion efficiency, Taiwanese PV cell makers experienced a record shipment growth in 2014, according to the latest report by EnergyTrend, a division of TrendForce.

This growth was in spite of being under the anti-dumping and countervailing investigation by the United States International Trade Commission (referred to here as the USITC) during the year. The shipments of Taiwanese PV cell makers in 2014 had an increase of 20% compared with the previous year, officially breaking the 10GW ceiling and setting a new all-time high.

NSP’s shipments soared ahead of Motech in 2014, thus clearly demonstrating its expanded production capacity after its merger. NSP became the leader among Taiwanese PV cell manufacturers in 2014, accounting for 22% of the total annual shipments.

Motech and Gintech follow closely with 16% and 15% shipment shares respectively. Overall, the three leading Taiwanese firms made up 53% of the total shipments. However, anticipate changes in 2015 when Motech’s merger of Topcell will be finalized by the end of June. Motech’s post-merger production capacity is estimated to reach 3GW, giving it the opportunity to retake the number one position.

EnergyTrend’s analyst Angus Kao pointed out two significant challenges facing Taiwanese solar firms in 2015. The first challenge is the anti-dumping and countervailing duties against Chinese imports and the anti-dumping duties against Taiwanese imports following the USITC’s vote on Jan. 21st. Major Chinese PV module manufacturers will be compelled to choose Chinese cells instead of the Taiwanese since the tariff rates set against the former are lower. As a result, orders from China will therefore fall drastically. The second challenge is demands from European and Japanese clients to have prices lowered in response to the steep depreciation of the euro and yen. Taiwanese PV cells going to those markets will face considerable price pressure in the future.

A survey of orders received from January to February indicates that Taiwanese firms experienced only a slight decrease in exports because of demands from Japan and the need to stock up before the Chinese New Year holidays. After March, however, the Taiwanese PV cell makers will feel the effects of reduced exports to US. Also, they will be moving their production lines overseas. Therefore, shipments will be negatively and significantly impacted. Following the third quarter, it is likely that Taiwanese firms will be able to reestablish connection with the United States when they have finished with their relocation. By then, the established peak season will also return along with rising demands from Europe, America, Japan and China. PV cell shipments from Taiwan will likely to enjoy a resurgence during that period.

“Global solar installations are gradually moving away from the large, ground-mounted PV systems for power plants to commercial applications and solar roof panels for homes,” Kao further noted, “and for that reason Taiwanese PV companies need to improve PV cells’ conversion efficiency.” At the same time, Taiwanese cell makers should bolster their mono-Si cell production capacities in order to match the production of modules with higher wattages and the shift towards niche end markets. Taiwanese firms also have other urgent matters to address in addition to increasing battery efficiency. These include creating a business model beyond just making and selling PV cells as well as developing new sales channels and markets.

Derick Lila
Derick is a Clark University graduate—and Fulbright alumni with a Master's Degree in Environmental Science, and Policy. He has 8+ years of solar industry research, marketing, and content strategy experience.

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