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Why can Chinese PV sell well overseas?

Last year, China’s export of photovoltaic products increased by 67.8% year on year, becoming one of the “new three types” of foreign trade exports——
Why can Chinese PV sell well overseas?
Why has PV export become the “new business card” of China’s foreign trade? Let’s look at several sets of data:
In 2022, China’s export of photovoltaic products increased by 67.8% year on year, forming the “new three types” of foreign trade export together with electric vehicles and lithium batteries;
The total export value of domestic photovoltaic products (silicon wafers, cells and modules) was about US $51.25 billion last year, up 80.3% year on year;
Last year, China’s export of wind power photovoltaic products reduced carbon dioxide emissions by about 573 million tons for other countries, with a total reduction of 2.83 billion tons, accounting for about 41% of the global renewable energy converted carbon emissions in the same period.
From raw materials, equipment and market “three in one”, to the significant international competitive advantage of the industrial chain and important contribution to the global energy transformation, how does China’s PV sell well overseas?
Stabilize foreign trade and promote economy, and photovoltaic products become export growth points
Charter flights to sea and group to grab orders – Since the end of last year, there has been a “tide of going to sea to grab orders” in many places in China.
As a member of the “Sailing Group”, Trina Solar signed many large orders, which are expected to account for 30% to 50% of the company’s total sales in 2023. Unlike traditional commodities, Trina Solar sells photovoltaic products for power generation to overseas customers.
In recent years, China’s export products are no longer limited to low-value-added categories such as clothing and handicrafts, and more high-tech products continue to emerge, including photovoltaic. Li Xingqian, Director of the Department of Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Commerce, said that last year, China’s high-tech, high-value-added products leading the green transformation became a new growth point for exports, represented by the export of electric vehicles, photovoltaic products and lithium batteries.
What are the photovoltaic products exported by China?
“Our main export product is photovoltaic modules, and our products and services cover more than 3000 customers in more than 160 countries and regions around the world. In 2022, the company’s global shipment of photovoltaic modules exceeded 44GW.” said Wei Tian, director of investor relations of Jingke Energy Co., Ltd. As the first company in the world that has shipped more than 100GW of modules and more than 10GW of N-type high-efficiency photovoltaic modules, Jingke Energy has ranked the first in the world in terms of module shipments for many years, “equivalent to 1 in 10 installed photovoltaic modules from Jingke”.
Photovoltaic modules are one of the major categories of China’s photovoltaic products export, in addition to silicon chips, battery chips, etc. “From the perspective of past market performance, modules have always accounted for a high proportion in the export of photovoltaic products. Last year, the export of silicon wafers and battery wafers has also increased significantly. It can be said that the export of photovoltaic products has become an important grip for China to stabilize foreign trade and promote the economy.” said Shi Jingli, a researcher at the Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission.
According to the data released by the China Photovoltaic Industry Association, in 2022, China’s total exports of photovoltaic products (silicon wafers, cells and modules) will be about US $51.25 billion, up 80.3% year on year. Among them, the export volume of PV modules was about 153.6GW, with a year-on-year increase of 55.8%, and both the export volume and the export volume reached a record high; The export volume of silicon wafers was about 36.3GW, with a year-on-year increase of 60.8%; The export volume of battery cells was about 23.8GW, with a year-on-year increase of 130.7%.
Where are China’s photovoltaic products sold?
“Europe is our ‘main battlefield’. In addition, the company also has business layout in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Argentina and other places.” Zhang Kun, CEO of GCL Integrated Technology Co., Ltd., introduced.
According to the statistics of China Photovoltaic Industry Association, in 2022, the export of China’s photovoltaic products to the markets of all continents will achieve different levels of growth, with the largest growth rate in Europe, with a year-on-year growth of 114.9%. By category, silicon chips and battery chips are mainly exported to Asia. In terms of module exports, the Netherlands has maintained its position as the largest market for China’s PV module exports, and Poland and Portugal have ranked among the top 10.
Through technological innovation, the cost of kilowatt-hour of photovoltaic power generation in China has dropped by more than 80% in the past 10 years
As the new driving force of China’s foreign trade export, the development of photovoltaic industry is not a smooth road.
It is reported that in the initial stage, China’s photovoltaic industry mainly relied on imported technologies and equipment, and most of its products were sold abroad. In 2008, affected by the international financial crisis, the demand for photovoltaic products in the global market fell sharply. In 2012, some countries launched anti-dumping and countervailing measures, which hit the industry hard. With weak external demand and insufficient domestic supply, the photovoltaic industry has fallen into a cold winter.
Fortunately, the policy sent “timely rain”. In 2013, the State Council issued Several Opinions on Promoting the Healthy Development of the Photovoltaic Industry, proposing to expand the domestic market, improve the technical level, and accelerate the industrial transformation and upgrading. At the same time, it is required to maintain the reasonable share of photovoltaic products in the international market and make new progress in foreign trade and investment and financing cooperation.
“With the support of policies such as the feed-in tariff subsidy for photovoltaic power generation, the vitality of China’s photovoltaic industry has been effectively stimulated and began to show a growth momentum. During the 13th Five-Year Plan period, the shipments of domestic polysilicon, silicon chips, battery chips and modules have taken an important share in the world. Entering the 14th Five-Year Plan period, China’s photovoltaic products have made outstanding achievements in shipping,” said Shi Jingli.
The industry is also practicing internal skills and studying technology.
“Improving efficiency and reducing cost is the main theme of China’s photovoltaic industry. Taking Jingke as an example, we have always advocated industrial chain integration, innovation and efficiency improvement, embedding technological innovation in all production links, so as to achieve the reduction of photovoltaic power consumption costs, Constantly make breakthroughs in efficiency and cost. Compared with the traditional P-type module, the unit power generation gain of TigerNeo module produced based on this battery technology can be increased by at least 3% to 5%, but the production cost can be flat, and the system cost is more advantageous.
The monitoring of relevant institutions shows that with the continuous innovation and iteration of photovoltaic technology, the cost of kilowatt-hour of photovoltaic power generation in China has dropped by more than 80% in the past 10 years.
Green and low-carbon transformation has become a global consensus, and providing cleaner and environmentally friendly photovoltaic products has become the direction of efforts of Chinese photovoltaic enterprises. “We always look at the impact of each stage on the environment from the perspective of the whole life cycle of products, actively grasp the opportunities of low carbon emission reduction in the process of product design, production and supply, and are committed to bringing more low carbon photovoltaic module products to the global market,” said Zhang Kun. Benefiting from GCL’s “black technology” FBR granular silicon technology, granular silicon particles the size of mung beans and thin silicon chips of about 150 microns have greatly reduced the carbon footprint of single crystals, making the products more competitive. Photovoltaic modules produced with granular silicon as raw material have low energy consumption and high cost. Once launched in the French market, they account for about 80% of the materials used in large local photovoltaic projects.
The efficiency of the photovoltaic cell laboratory keeps breaking records, the number of relevant patent applications continues to rise, and “specialized and special” enterprises are emerging in a competitive manner… “From raw materials, equipment, and the market to the rapid growth of production capacity and output, to the industrial chain supply chain with global competitive advantages, China’s photovoltaic industry has successfully found a path of policy support, technical assistance, and market-oriented development.” Shi Jingli said.
Give full play to advantages, strengthen cooperation, continue to study, and continue to expand the global market
At the beginning of the new year, “PV people” are busy expanding their overseas layout.
Zhang Kun told reporters that GCL Integration will accelerate the export of PV modules and strive to rank among the top 10 enterprises in the global shipment list. “The export of components is planned to reach 15GW this year and 30GW next year. We will also continue to focus on technology research and development and do a good job in upstream and downstream supporting linkage.”
“Our flagship N-type product TigerNeo component has caused a ‘N-type cyclone’ in the overseas market dominated by Europe. At present, Jingke Energy has established the world’s largest N-type capacity of more than 35GW. This year, N-type components will become the company’s main export product.” Wei Tian said.
Full of vitality and pressure. With the accelerated pace of China’s PV products going to sea, many challenges are also facing the PV industry: some countries set trade barriers to restrict China’s PV products from entering the market; There are also places that emphasize the strengthening of local supply, which to some extent affects China’s photovoltaic exports. How to treat “danger” and “opportunity”? Chinese photovoltaic enterprises answer this question: give full play to their advantages, strengthen cooperation and continue to study.
An insider believed that the “localization” strategy is particularly critical. “In some countries, local policies and laws are different, and Chinese enterprises must fully understand local policies and market entry requirements in order to successfully go overseas. Building local teams and strengthening compliance awareness are the key elements to enter the local market.”
In Wei Tian’s view, the reason why China’s photovoltaic industry can gain a leading position in the world is precisely because of its long-term adherence to technological innovation. “In recent years, China’s photovoltaic industry has made continuous breakthroughs in high-efficiency crystalline silicon cell technologies such as PERC, TOPcon, HJT, IBC, etc. The technologies of half-chip, double-sided, laminated tile, multi-main grid, large size and other technologies have been mature and applied, and the localization level of various key equipment and main and auxiliary materials has also been improved year by year. Supported by these advanced technologies and processes, the mass production efficiency of photovoltaic cells and the power of photovoltaic modules have been continuously improved, the unit production cost and the downstream system The cost has dropped significantly. A number of leading enterprises with world influence have stood out and established a complete industrial chain including upstream and downstream links. China Photovoltaic has formed a leading industrial scale and an unshakable efficiency and cost advantage worldwide. “
In the long run, the photovoltaic industry will continue to show a positive trend driven by factors such as fossil energy price fluctuations and renewable energy development plans proposed by many countries.
“Even though the high price of silicon materials drives the price of components to rise, the PV market has maintained a strong growth momentum last year. This is enough to prove that the PV products exported by China have obvious competitiveness in the world. A complete industrial chain and technological innovation are the main sources of competitiveness,” said Shi Jingli, “We should continue to focus on technological research and development, give full play to the multiple advantages of cost and technological innovation, and provide clean and high-quality Chinese products and solutions for the global market while continuing to promote the export of photovoltaic products to the sea.”

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