China solar panel exports to ease on EU curbs

Fri Aug 9, 2013 12:50am EDT
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By Swetha Gopinath and Charlie Zhu

BANGALORE/HONG KONG (Reuters) - Major Chinese solar panel makers such as Canadian Solar Inc (CSIQ.O: Quote) recorded buoyant shipments in the April-June period as they raced to rev up sales ahead of EU restrictions on Chinese exports, but sales have eased in the current quarter.

Canadian Solar said late on Thursday that it expects to ship between 410 megawatts (MW) and 430 MW of solar panels in the third quarter, lower than the 455 MW it shipped in the second but still much higher than first quarter shipment of 340 MW. In the second quarter of 2012, the firm shipped 412 MW.

Rivals Trina Solar Ltd TSL.N and Yingli Green Energy Holding (YGE.N: Quote) on Thursday said they expect second-quarter shipments and gross margins to be higher than their forecasts on a jump in sales in Europe.

"Given last month's EU-China trade deal, needless to say the pre-buying has come to an end," Raymond James analyst Pavel Molchanov said, referring to the agreement on regulating Chinese panel imports.

The fine print of the deal has yet to be disclosed, but an EU source told Reuters that Chinese firms could sell into Europe - the world's largest solar market - at a minimum price of 56 euro cents per watt, close to the market price.

Shipments from China, the world's dominant solar panel supplier, will be capped at 7 gigawatt (GW) per year, around half of the EU's 2012 demand of about 15GW.

Anticipating the restrictions, many Chinese panel makers scrambled to sell into Europe in the first half, with exports already reaching 6.5 GW, analysts say. Chinese solar panel sales to the EU reached 21 billion euros ($27.9 billion) last year.

It remains unclear if any annual EU quota on Chinese panels covers first-half shipments, but analysts expect exports to Europe to ease in the current quarter as the April-June surge has left an inventory build-up of about 2 GW.   Continued...

An employee dries newly made solar panels at a factory of a photovoltaic company in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province June 5, 2013. REUTERS/William Hong