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2017 PV manufacturing industry statistics

Published on: January 24, 2018

Original title: 2017年我国光伏产业运行情况
Links: Source document (in Chinese) (link).

1. General situation

In 2017, due to the dual factors of the accelerated expansion of domestic distributed PV markets and the rapid growth of numbers of overseas emerging markets, China's photovoltaic industry enjoys a sustained and healthy development. The scale of the industry grew steadily, the technical level improved significantly, production costs dropped significantly, the profits of enterprises continued to improve, and the foreign trade remained stable。
(i) Steady growth of industrial scale。In 2017, China's polysilicon production was 242 kiloton, an increase of 24.7% on last year;wafer production was 87 GW, an increase of 34.3% on last year;solar cell production was 68 GW, an increase of 33.3% on last year;and module production was 76 GW, an increase of 31.7% on last year。Production in all links of the industrial chain accounted for more than 50% of the global total, maintaining the top position globally。
(ii) Technical level keeps rising。P-type monocrystalline and polycrystalline cell technologies continue to improve, with average conversion efficiencies reaching 20.5% and 18.8%, respectively, in conventional production lines. Advanced production lines with Passivated Emitter Rear Contact (PERC) technology and black silicon technology achieved 21.3% and 19.2%, respectively。Polysilicon production technology was further optimized, with the industry average comprehensive power consumption falling to below 70 kWh/kg。
(iii) Production costs have decreased significantly。Through joint technical progress, production automation and 'smart' transformation, polysilicon production costs by China's leading enterprises fell to 60,000 CNY/ton, module production costs fell to below 2 CNY/watt, investment cost for photovoltaic power generation systems fell to circa 5 CNY/watt, and electricity production costs fell to 0.5-0.7 CNY/kWh。
(iv) The profits of enterprises continue to improve。Benefiting from the expansion of the market size, shipments increased significantly, whilst at the same time technological advances led to lower production costs, leading to significantly improved levels of profitability for China's PV companies. The highest gross profit margins in the upstream industry chain links of silicon, silicon wafers, unprocessed auxiliary materials, and downstream links of inverters and power stations, reached 45.8%, 37.34%, 21.8%, 33.54% and 50%, respectively。
(v) Foreign trade remained stable。In January to November of 2017, China's total exports of photovoltaic products amounted to $13.11 billion, an increase of 1.4% on last year;polysilicon imports were 144 kiloton, an increase of 17.3% on last year。Because of the continuous expansion of the global PV market, China's photovoltaic products export volume grew rapidly, whilst export prices continued to decline, however. Growth rates increased in emerging markets such as Mexico, Brazil and India, with exports to India jumping to the first place amongst these markets。

2. Future situation and difficulties
(i) Sustained growth of production capacity, and increased pressure between market supply and demand。On the supply side, additional and retrofitted production capacity in all industry chain links will gradually come online in 2018, whilst on the demand side, the growth rate of domestic and international markets for new installations will slow down。This shift will lead to an imbalance between supply and demand in China's PV market in 2018, and prices in all industry chain links in both upstream and downstream sectors will be further lowered, and enterprises will experience relatively strong pressure。
(ii) Product variety is low, industrial technological innovation is weak。China's photovoltaic products consist mostly of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, and is mainly concentrated conventional solar cells, the product variety is relatively low. There is still a gap with foreign countries in reliability of silicon heterojunction (SHJ) and other high-efficiency cells and products; basic research needs to be improved。In addition, there are still deficiencies in China's high-end photovoltaic cell technology, equipment, and raw materials. The key equipment needed for black silicon, PERC, N-type, and other technologies, is still dependent on imports. Intelligent factory system integration capabilities still need to be improved。
(iii) There is serious curtailment of PV power generation, with apparent supply and demand imbalances between eastern and western regions。Integrated power consumption markets for Eastern, Central and Western regions have not yet formed, there are barriers to trade between provinces, and the construction of transmission networks lags behind the development of PV and other new energy sources. Coupled with the peak regulation capacity of the existing power grid lacking flexibility, and the limited consumption capacity in the Northwest, has resulted in serious curtailment in the northwest region, and imbalances in supply and demand between Eastern and Western regions。
(iv) PV subsidies payments are lagging, affecting the normal operation of the industrial chain。With the rapid expansion of the PV market and the insufficiency of the renewable energy surcharge, there is an obvious subsidy funding gap. Most PV projects are having difficulties in obtaining subsidies in a timely manner, increasing the cost of capital in entire industry chain, in particular because photovoltaic companies are mostly private enterprises and are active in a single business segment. The financing ability is weak, and market volatility easily leads to rapid increases of industry risk。
(v) Affected by trade protectionism, the outlook for PV's "going global" is not optimistic。In recent years, China's PV industry has rapidly developed, making it a focus product in trade protection measures of a number of countries。A new round of trade surveys will pay even more attention to Chinese enterprises, with frequent trade friction, hindering the pace of China's PV "going global", leading to a rapid rise of global PV utilization costs, which is not conducive to promoting global PV utilization。

3. Key tasks
With global energy shortages and environmental pollution becoming more apparent, the PV industry has become a regular focus area and a key sector for development in the new industries for many countries。In order to further regulate the development of China's PV industry and promote industrial restructuring and upgrading, and to promote progress of China's photovoltaic industry toward the higher end of the global value chain, we will focus on the following tasks:
First, publish an 'intelligent photovoltaic industry' action plan。In order to thoroughly implement the "Made in China 2025", publish the "Intelligent photovoltaic industry development action plan (2018-2020)"。Promote intelligent upgrading of the photovoltaic industry, and encourage the application of big data, NB-IOT and other information technologies in the photovoltaic field;Promote the thorough integration of internet, big data, artificial intelligence with the photovoltaic industry 。Explore and promote demonstration projects in the fields of construction, water utilization, agriculture and poverty alleviation。Work together to promote the development of an intelligent photovoltaic industry, and actively cultivate a globally advanced manufacturing cluster。
Second, strengthen administrative management of industry standards。Continue to implement the "Photovoltaic manufacturing industry standards", organize the related reporting work, start sampling of enterprises that have already met the standards, continue to dynamically adjust the public list of standards, strengthen coordination and collaboration of industry standards and related policies, and effectively regulate the industry development order。
Third, improve construction of public service platforms。In order to meet industrial development needs, improve construction of public service platforms for standards, testing and other public services, fully utilize this platform role, in order to provide statistical support for the development of the industry。Encourage relevant organizations to pay close attention to the implementation of 'strong industrial bases' and other projects。Accelerate the implementation of "Integral Standardized Technology System for the Solar PV Industry", to enhance support capacity for the industry。
Fourth, adhere to the combined notions of "attracting from outside" and "going out"。Implement the "Belt and Road Initiative", plan the overall industry chain layout, enhance our ability to direct the global flow of goods, capital and information, make good use of the two types of markets and two kinds of resources in international and domestic markets, breakthrough in technology, brands, markets, integrate more deeply and more broadly into the global supply system, encourage enterprises to timely and at a proper level develop overseas factories and expand overseas business, and cooperate with relevant departments in dealing with trade disputes。
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