The US Solar Module Capacity Bandwagon

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by Paula Mints

South Korea’s Hanwha Q Cells (HQCL) jumped on the US solar module capacity building bandwagon by announcing that it planned to add 1.6-GWp of module assembly in the US with the goal of taking advantage of the 2.5-GWp of cells that can be imported without the manufactureing

Comment: The US has about 1-GWp of module assembly for which cells must be imported. Jinko is expected to add 600-MWp of module assembly capacity in Florida.

SunPower (SPWR) is expected to add capacity in Oregon if and when (when or if) the SolarWorld US acquisition is approved. Meanwhile new module assembly is being announced on almost a weekly basis (read below about LG’s (066570.KS) US capacity announcement. The untariffed limit for imported cells is 2.5-GWp, and if all announcements come to pass new module assembly capacity will exceed 2.5-GWp. Surely, the manufacturers announcing capacity building can add, or, perhaps all the cells will come from India. More likely however, there will be some scaling back or, walking back, from the planned capacity building.
Lesson: The original Jinko (JKS) announcement was in the gigawatt range and has now dropped to 600-MWp and may only, in the end, be 100-MWp or so. Announcements are not facts. Finally, all those who assume the involvement of NextEra (NEE) means that the announcement is 100% to be believed should remember that the 201 tariffs are temporary, meaning they expire.

In other words, look to the facts around the announcement – always – for clarity.

Lastly, concerning announcements … companies (and celebrities and politicians) make announcements for a variety of reasons:
• To call attention to themselves much the same way a small child leaps up and down shouting ‘I’m here! I’m here,’
• To deflect attention from something else much the way a politician will answer a question with ‘what about them,’
• Or, to actually announce something worthy.

Paula Mints is founder of SPV Market Research, a classic solar market research practice focused on gathering data through primary research and providing analyses of the global solar industry.  You can find her on Twitter @PaulaMints1 and read her blog here
This article was originally published in SPV Reaserch’s monthly newsletter, the Solar Flare, and is republished with permission.


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