Trina Solar, a major PV manufacturer, is planning to establish its first PV module manufacturing operations outside China as it is expecting increased demand from the US. In fact, the company announced in its second quarter earnings call that module demand from the US had increased substantially in the second quarter of 2014 and it may remain strong through the rest of the year and even 2015.
Trina Solar has been conducting site selection analysis for a manufacturing plant but did not mention what countries assessments were being made in. Recent reports have identified Mexico and Malaysia as prime candidates, though the US should not yet be ruled out.
As a result of the second round of recent US anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Chinese PV cells and the first duties being imposed on Taiwanese PV cells, companies are looking for strategies to retain PV module shipments into the rapidly growing US market, while trying to avoid paying duties. Trina Solar, like many other companies, also views US market as a key market in the future. Yet, the company has greater potential in the US compared with its rivals because it had been imposed with the lowest 2012 AD and CVD tariffs. It also received the lowest in the most recent preliminary ruling.
Being PV market leader, Yingli Green’s nearest rival, Trina Solar has been closing the gap over the last two years and reiterated full-year module shipment guidance of 3.6GW to 3.8GW during the release of second quarter 2014 financial results. It could be a threat to Yingli Green as it may lose its number one industry ranking in 2014, after revising downward full-year shipment guidance. Although Yingli Green had previously guided annual shipments of 4GW to 4.2GW for 2014, in releasing second quarter results a day after Trina Solar, the company revised shipment guidance to the same range as its nearest rival.
Both companies have PV project pipelines for 2014 that are similar and therefore make the fight for market leadership even more interesting. Trina Solar guided in-house downstream shipments to be in the range of 400MW to 500MW, while Yingli Green has guided 400MW to 600MW. With both companies developing their downstream PV project businesses and focused on key markets of China, US and Europe as well as Japan, the fight for market leadership has not been as close in over a decade.