This is a huge topic.
However, industrial development is inseparable from the “general trend” of the world, especially photovoltaics.
Today, the global order has entered a new round of reconstruction. From trade disputes, to local conflicts, and then to the energy crisis, China’s photovoltaics with a high degree of globalization has once again reached a new fork.
1. Trade friction is “limited”
This round of trade disputes, from the “201 Tariff Investigation” to the “301 Tariff Investigation”, from the “Forced Labor Act” to the “Inflation Reduction Act”, has intensified.
In other words, the most fearless “trade-trade war” is China’s photovoltaics.
China’s photovoltaic industry is no stranger to various “trade-trade wars”. Instead, it has continued to grow in the global trade disputes. Since the “double-reverse” in 2011, it has become stronger and stronger, and has finally become the “world king.” “.
By 2021, the market share of China’s top five polysilicon, silicon wafer, cell and module companies will reach 86.7%, 84%, 53.9% and 63.4% respectively.
The world is becoming more and more uneven, and it is difficult for China’s photovoltaics, which is “big tree to attract wind”, to be alone.
Following the tariff investigation, the U.S. implemented the Forced Labor Act in June 2022, further suppressing Chinese photovoltaics.
In fact, in the first half of 2022, the US installed PV capacity was only 4.2GW, compared with 13.5GW in the same period last year, a year-on-year decrease of 69%. Among them, in the first half of 2022, China’s direct export of photovoltaic modules to the United States is only about 0.18GW, which is almost negligible.
The causal relationship of global trade in this is full of reverie, more like “shooting oneself in the foot”.
Not only the United States, but also the European Union has recently proposed a similar law restricting forced labor, which may take effect by the end of 2024 if it is finally approved.
However, the impact of these policies is generally manageable.
In terms of “tariff investigation”, domestic component companies have long avoided it by building factories in Southeast Asia. Earlier this year, the United States announced an “anti-circumvention investigation” on PV products imported from Southeast Asian countries. However, it may be due to the sharp drop in installed capacity. In June this year, the United States announced that it would not impose new tariffs on PV imports for two years, which means that imports of modules from Southeast Asia will not be affected in the short term.
This round also shows that the United States is at a disadvantage in the photovoltaic game. As for seeking industrial independence through self-built production capacity, it is not easy to face China’s powerful advantages in the entire industry chain.
As for the “forced labor bill”, it is currently mainly aimed at silicon materials in some sensitive production areas. However, with the release of silicon material production capacity and the diversification of regional layout, the proportion of sensitive areas will also decrease. Even if it is implemented in Europe two years later, the impact will be limited. , The photovoltaic installed capacity in China and outside Europe and the United States is fully capable of digesting the silicon material production capacity in sensitive areas.
It seems that this is the case, the data is more indicative of the global performance of China’s photovoltaics, and the pent-up demand for installed capacity in the United States will make up for it.
From January to August 2022, the total export volume of photovoltaic products in my country reached 35.77 billion US dollars, and the export volume of photovoltaic modules reached 113GW, an increase of 80% year-on-year.
As long as there is demand for photovoltaics, the pattern of China’s photovoltaic dominance in the global market will not change, unless the rest of the world, like the United States, “kills food because of choking” and prevents China’s photovoltaics from attacking through “suicide demand”.
2. Energy crisis “help”
The Russian-Ukrainian war ignited this round of energy crisis, with Europe bearing the brunt.
In the three traditional energy fields of natural gas, coal and oil, Russia is the first importer of the EU, accounting for 40%, 45% and 27% respectively. In the European power structure, natural gas power generation accounts for about 20%, and coal power accounts for about 15%.
Affected by the Russian-Ukrainian war, the price of natural gas in Europe rose more than 10 times year-on-year. Due to the energy crisis and food supply, the EU’s inflation rate in August 2022 will reach 10.1%. At the same time, some industrial production capacity is even brewing to transfer, which can be described as “people’s livelihood”.
Because of the low self-sufficiency rate of traditional energy sources such as oil, coal and natural gas, Europe has always been hit hard by the energy crisis, which is why Europe focuses on developing nuclear power, wind power and photovoltaics. A word for bondage.
To this end, Europe has become an important photovoltaic market in the world. In 2021, Europe will account for about 17% of the global photovoltaic installed capacity, second only to China at 52% and the Americas at 21%, and the cumulative installed capacity is second only to China. In China’s PV module exports, Europe accounted for 54% in the first half of this year, making it China’s largest export market.
Affected by the energy crisis and expectations, European photovoltaic installations are still accelerating. In the first half of this year, China exported 42.4GW of photovoltaic modules to Europe, a year-on-year increase of 137%. The European Union launched its solar strategy in May this year, aiming to double its photovoltaic power generation capacity by 2025 and install 600GW by 2030. In addition, there are many other energy strategies that also involve photovoltaics.
The situation in Europe is different from that of the United States. The United States has strong traditional energy reserves and traditional energy influence, and has a high energy self-sufficiency rate. Moreover, the global energy pattern is also an important component of its world order. The strategic position of photovoltaics is not obvious. The wayward performance of photovoltaic policies Just a footnote.
However, European traditional energy is relatively scarce, the energy self-sufficiency rate is low, and industry and people’s livelihood are constrained by the global energy pattern. Photovoltaic is a real rigid demand, not a luxury snack. “Carbon neutrality” is not a casual talk, and it is impossible to be like the United States. “Shooting yourself in the foot” is a market that China’s photovoltaics can rely on for a long time with its strength.
Photovoltaic power generation is an important energy supply. For Europe, which lacks traditional energy, vigorously developing photovoltaic and wind power and expanding the scale of local energy is an important tool to get rid of the shortage of traditional energy sources such as oil, coal and natural gas. “It is an important reason to vigorously promote new energy in the name of it.
The restless global order is exacerbating a new round of energy crisis. Since the oil crisis, the world has never paid more attention to energy issues than today, and photovoltaics are expected to benefit from this.
3. China’s photovoltaic “forward”
We must admit two facts:
First, the global competitive position of China’s photovoltaic industry, and due to the semiconductor attributes of the photovoltaic industry, the technology is constantly iterating, and the competition logic is constantly being updated, making it difficult for latecomers to keep up.
Second, under the turmoil of the global order, the “energy crisis” has contributed to “carbon neutrality” and has become another driving force for the development of the photovoltaic industry. Photovoltaic has become a rigid demand rather than a luxury snack, especially in China, Europe, Japan and South Korea.
Under these two facts, China’s photovoltaic industry does not need to be afraid of this round of turbulence in the global order, and may even usher in a new round of development and growth like past trade disputes.
Think about it, the EU’s recently proposed Act on Restricting Forced Labor, even if it is finally approved, will not take effect until the end of 2024. The two-year transition period is expected to have little impact on China’s photovoltaic industry, which is “developing by day”.
Today, China not only has cost-effective advantages in photovoltaic terminal products, but also has strong comprehensive advantages in the entire industry chain such as technology, equipment, materials, labor costs and energy costs. Especially in terms of energy costs, China’s current traditional power system with “thermal power as the mainstay and hydropower as a supplement” provides a basis for lower photovoltaic manufacturing costs. In disguise, the export of cheap photovoltaic products helps overseas to absorb inflationary pressures.
Globally, photovoltaics have become a cheap and free energy source, and as the proportion of photovoltaics increases, it is impacting the dominance of traditional energy sources, which is expected to impact the global order based on traditional energy sources. From this perspective, the future development of photovoltaics is destined to be full of controversy and imagination.