Chinese module suppliers see short-term pain, long-term gain

In spite of recent troubles in the PV industry, many suppliers see the potential growth as very strong, which will help the industry long-term.

09/30/2011


I was lucky enough to attend Suntech’s 10th Anniversary Celebrations in Wuxi this week and witnessed first-hand the company’s (and country’s) ambitious plans in the PV industry in future, highlighted by the inauguration of their huge new facility in the city.

Around 500 people gathered at the invite-only event at a nearby hotel and joined in a huge banquet and celebration that included all of Suntech’s senior management as well as customers, partners and just a few people that had nothing to do with the PV industry at all. What really struck me at the event was how positive they all were – amazing considering the current industry conditions and continual bad news that’s hampered the industry almost the whole year.

Suntech Founder and CEO Dr. Zhengrong Shi described the PV market as “being in winter” but was adamant that “spring would arrive soon”. Quite simply the attitude in the huge forum could be summarized as “We know the industry is suffering, but it’s a short-term problem. We know there is too much capacity, but we’ll still need more in future to conquer the industry”.

You could consider this attitude as cavalier, but frankly I found it a refreshing change. Amidst all the doom and gloom surrounding the PV industry as companies see prices and margins plummet, it’s important to look back at what the industry has achieved so far. As I pointed out in my opening presentation at the event’s ‘market forum’, when Suntech entered the PV market in 2001, annual installations were just 350MW. Prices were nearly five times higher and just a handful of suppliers were active. Now in 2011, 10 years on, we’ll likely see installations reach 23GW – 65 times larger than 2001, which has created hundreds of thousands of jobs (and not all of them in China) and allowed prices to fall to a level at which PV is on the brink of the mainstream.

Profile photo of Ash Sharma, senior research director for photovolatics at IMS Research. Courtesy: IMS ResearchSo despite the recent slowdown in demand and the several on-going difficulties the industry is facing, many of the people at the event were still very positive and still extremely ambitious. Many talked about changing China from being a production base for PV, to one for actual PV deployment. Some in fact even suggested China would install 3GW of capacity this year and would not be beaten to the number one spot by the USA in future years. I’m very positive about China’s future deployment plans and the country has certainly changed from just big talk to making real big progress, but even our most optimistic forecasts wouldn’t see 3GW being added to China this year – but I’d happily be proved wrong and I’m sure many others would too!



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
2016 Engineering Leaders Under 40; Future vision: Where is manufacturing headed?; Electrical distribution, redefined
Strategic outsourcing delivers efficiency; Sleeve bearing clearance; Causes of water hammer; Improve air quality; Maintenance safety; GAMS preview
World-class maintenance: The three keys to success - Deploy people, process and technology; 2016 Lubrication Guide; Why hydraulic systems get hot
Flexible offshore fire protection; Big Data's impact on operations; Bridging the skills gap; Identifying security risks
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing arc flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me