Solar manufacturers are set to ship a record number of panels this year, with the largest makers expected to deliver 52 percent more panel between them than 2013.

Hanwha SolarOne Co. saw “robust” volumes in the first half while maintaining its aim to sell as many as 1.6 gigawatts of panels this year, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Qidong, China-based company Nam Seong-Woo said yesterday on a call with analysts. To keep up with demand, it expects to complete its plant expansion by the end of the year.

Trina Solar Ltd. (TSL), First Solar Inc. (FSLR), JinkoSolar Holding Co., Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ), and JA Solar Holdings Co. all reported profits in the quarter. Only Hanwha and larger rival Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. cut its shipment forecasts for this year and reported losses. Solar companies are expanding as a supply glut that hurt margins is mopped up.

“Robust levels of global demand should continue to drive notable revenue growth” in the second half into 2015, Jeffrey Osborne, an analyst at Cowen & Co in New York, said in a research note on Trina Solar.

Global installations are expected to reach a record 52 gigawatts this year up from 40.3 gigawatts in 2013 on falling equipment and financing costs combined with stable incentives, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The top seven makers expect to account for about 20 gigawatts of that.

Markets including China, Japan and the U.S. will drive more than half of the growth this year, accounting for as much as 14 gigawatts, 11.9 gigawatts and 5.6 gigawatts respectively.

Even the parts of the industry that suffered most are recovering. Solarworld AG, Germany’s biggest solar-panel maker, shipped record modules in July and sees similar levels for this month, Chief Executive Officer Frank Asbeck said today. The company was the one major producer in Germany to survive a shakeout triggered by the inventory glut, which bankrupted dozens of German makers.

“Demand from both the China and overseas markets has picked up dramatically,” including the U.S., Trina Solar’s Chairman and CEO Gao Jifan said on a call with analysts following its earnings release.

Solar is largely driven by incentives in the U.S., Jim VanderPas, director of solar product and program development at ConEdison Solutions Inc., a developer of solar projects mainly in the country’s northeast and southeast, said yesterday in an interview.

Those incentives are fairly stable, he said. In the state of New Jersey, for example, “you’re going to see more growth than we’ve ever seen in the past next year.”

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

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