China exported 37 GW of panels in five months

A booming overseas market has offset falls in demand in China caused by rising solar module prices, according to Flat Glass. In common with its PV glassmaking rivals, the company is pressing ahead with production expansion, betting reduced prices for its products will feed even greater demand.

September 8, 2021

A first half trading update issued today by manufacturer Flat Glass has referred to statistics supplied by trade body the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA) which indicate the nation shipped 36.9 GW of modules overseas in the first five months of the year.

That would mark a 36% rise on the volume of panels sold outside China during the same period of last year, and the value of all PV-related exports from China rose a similar volume, to hit $9.86 billion in the five-month period, according to the CPIA figures quoted by Flat Glass.

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The Chinese manufacturer’s dependence on sales of its solar panel glass products was again evident, with Flat Glass reporting PV products supplied 83% of the business’ first-half revenue, generating RMB3.32 billion ($514 million) in January-to-June, a slightly lower share than the 85% of total cashflow accounted for by PV revenue of RMB2.13 billion ($330 million) a year earlier, as a global solar glass shortage began to bite.

With Flat Glass reporting total six-month revenue of RMB4.03 billion ($623 million), architectural glass revenue of RMB304 million ($47 million) was the next biggest contributor.

That meant solar panel glass generated gross profits of RMB1.67 billion ($258 million) in the first half for Flat Glass, up from RMB852 million ($132 million) last time, and accounting for half of the company’s six-month gross profit, up from 40%, year on year.

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In common with the other Chinese solar glass majors, Flat Glass is forging – or perhaps that should be ‘melting’ – ahead with production capacity expansion plans even in the face of prices which began to fall back in the second quarter as more and more production lines were constructed.

Flat Glass said it added PV production facilities with a daily melting capacity of 1,200 tons in each of the opening two quarters of this year, and will continue at the same pace until year-end.

The company added another 1,000-ton line at the Haiphong fab in Vietnam where it opened a similar asset in the last quarter of 2020, and in the last three-month window began cold repair and reconstruction of a 600-ton-per-day solar glass line at Jiaxing, in Zhejiang province.

Flat Glass is organizing a shareholder vote to approve a plan, announced in June, to issue up to RMB4 billion worth of A-share convertible bonds, to finance its expansionary strategy.

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