L R AS Published on Sunday 5 December 2021 - n° 385 - Categories:forecasts;

Are we entering a new era, or will the decline in panel prices soon resume?

Should we believe the CEO of Canadian Solar or the CEO of Trina Solar?

At the Bloomberg NEF conference, the CEO of Canadian Solar said that the era of ever cheaper panels has come to an end. He believes that the era of regular price cuts

for solar panels has come to an end: "The rebound in silicon and component material prices marks the beginning of a new era. This era means that going green and being carbon neutral has a cost. The solar PV industry cannot be expected to continue to lower its costs as the world seeks to decarbonise and wean itself off fossil fuels. Other industries must also contribute.

Trina Solar disagrees with this analysis. Its CEO predicts that module prices will start to fall in the first half of next year. He said the price surge had taken the industry by surprise, adding: "We did not expect panel prices to exceed two yuan per watt ($0.314). He adds: "Today we are in a paradox: the scale of production is getting bigger, but the price from upstream is increasing rapidly. This means a bigger market, but not all companies benefit. Only a few benefit. This is not normal.

Silicon producers enjoy gross margins of 80%. This situation is attracting producers. It will quickly lead to a situation of overproduction. "If we get to 500 GW of silicon production capacity by the end of 2023, there will be a collapse in prices."

Wafer manufacturer Zhonghuan expects a 15-20% reduction from current price levels in the second half of next year. Trina's CEO is more optimistic. He considers it "very likely" that prices will fall as early as the first half of next year.

Wafers using TOPCon technology. JinkoSolar and Trina Solar believe that TOPCon has a huge future. They both expect a massive ramp-up of TOPCon production lines in the coming years. Other leaders (Canadian Solar or Zhonghuan) have been more cautious and have highlighted a range of cell and panel technologies that promise to further reduce costs and increase yields.

China and energy payback time The Chinese market is expected to install 40-45 GW in 2021 and then double its installations in 2022 to 90-100 GW. Trina Solar presented a PV project in northern China where Trina panels will produce enough energy in six months to cover the energy used in the upstream manufacturing process. Canadian Solar has estimated that this will increase to three months by 2028 and the company has committed to being carbon neutral by that year. This is because basically the higher the power, the shorter the time it takes to recover the energy invested in the supply chain to produce the panel.


PV Magazine of1 December 2021

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