Chinese manufacturer JinkoSolar expects to be the top solar module manufacturer in the world in 2016 after posting record shipments in the first quarter of 2016.
The 10-year-old company announced total shipments of 1,600MW in the March quarter, more than double the same quarter a year ago, allowing it to claim the top position among tier one solar module manufacturers for the first time.
It expects annual production capacity of 6GW to 6.5GW in 2016, and a gross margin of 21.3 per cent, reflecting the strength of the current solar market.
“Despite the steep drop in the price of crude oil and other economic volatilities, global demand for solar is growing steadily,” CEO Chen Kangping told analysts in a conference call after the results were released late last week.
Chen said the company would take a “cautious” approach to expansion – perhaps conscious of the problems facing US solar giant SunEdison and the debt issues facing other Chinese manufacturers.
“This expansion should only allow us to meet the minimum expectation for the market demand in the future,” he said.
In the latest quarter, the “in-house” costs of solar module production fell from US41c/watt to US39c/watt, and the company expects an overall cost reduction target of 5 per cent to 8 per cent by the end of 2016.
These improvements are coming from different factors such as production and sale conversion efficiencies, and new materials and new process. Revenue almost doubled in the first quarter to $US847.8 million.
JinkoSolar said that in Australia, the rapid growth in its Smart Module range had proven popular, and its Eagle Series had achieved a world record 20.13 per cent poly cell production efficiency. This is expected to rise to 20.5 per cent in the second half of 2016.
JinkoSolar said that in the next 3 to 5 years, JinkoSolar expects to increase its power output by 22-30 per cent, achieving 330W output from a 60-cell module. The cost per watt, meanwhile, is expected to decrease by 22-30 per cent, allowing for a better return on investment for solar project investors.
“Global solar demand continues to grow as costs go down,” Chen Kanping said in a statement. “China remains our biggest market with a number of big orders continuing to come in, a trend we believe will continue in the second quarter.
He said the markets were also strong in the US, Chile, Thailand and India. The company any won its first overseas project tender – in Mexico – and expects to pursue project development opportunities in overseas markets.
Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, and is also the founder of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and founder/editor of www.TheDriven.io. Giles has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.