Last year was another record-breaking year for photovoltaic (PV) installations, with nearly 39 gigawatts (GW)-of new capacity produced – some 8 GW more than in 2012. PV’s biggest market, China, saw around 9 GW installed in the fourth quarter of 2013 alone. The last-minute rush was sparked by the reduction on 1 January 2014 in the feed-in tariff for large grid-connected projects from CNY 1 (USD 0.16) to CNY 0.9 (USD 0.15) per kilowatt-hour.
State support for solar projects has helped to end the two-year slump for PV manufacturers, which are generally now seeing rising profitability. On 3 March, Jinko Solar Holding Co. posted its highest quarterly earnings in almost three years, with net income in the fourth quarter of 2013 of CNY 164.3 million (USD 26.7 million) compared with a loss of CNY 761.1 million in the last quarter of 2012. Though Trina Solar Ltd.’s results for the last quarter of 2013 were generally comparable to those for the third quarter, China’s second-largest PV panel maker had a significantly better year overall compared with 2012, reporting a 281-percent increase in gross profit to USD 218 million, although its earnings per share were still negative, with a loss of USD 1.09 in 2013 – compared with a larger deficit of USD 3.77 a year earlier.
Solar on the up and up
Indeed, the market is not wholly out of the woods yet: on 7 January, Tianwei Sichuan Silicon filed for bankruptcy, while two months later Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy Science &
Technology Co. failed to pay the full interest due on onshore bonds, becoming the first firm to default in China. Chaori Solar ran into trouble because it expanded into building solar farms to produce power – rather than only concentrating on manufacturing PV products – according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
This is an abridged version of the article – the full text is available in new energy issue 03/2014.
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