The latest statistical report released by Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association (JPEA) on 20 January shows total PV cell shipments by Japanese manufacturers (in modules and include both shipments to domestic and overseas markets) came to 1,499MW for 4Q17. This represents a YoY drop of 13% and the 11th consecutive quarter of YoY decline for total cell shipments. The JPEA report also points out that Japanese manufacturers together accounted for 40% of the overseas market share in 4Q17, up by 2 percentage points from 38% in 3Q17. The ratio of domestically produced cells to cells produced in manufacturers’ overseas facilities is 34:66.
JPEA moreover stated that total domestic cell shipments for 4Q17 fell by 18% YoY to 1,327MW, posting a second consecutive quarter of contraction.
According to the breakdown of Japan’s domestic cell shipments for 4Q17, the share of shipments going to residential market grew by 2% YoY to 309MW, while the share of shipments going to the non-residential market (e.g. for solar power plants and other commercial applications) fell considerably by 23% to 1,018MW. The share of domestic shipments going to non-residential market came to around 77% in 4Q17.
On the other hand, cell exports from Japanese manufacturers expanded greatly by 77% YoY to 171MW in 4Q17. Major Japanese PV cell makers include Sharp Corp., Kyocera Corp., Solar Frontier KK (a subsidiary of Showa Shell Sekiyu KK), and Mitsubishi Electric Corp.
Japan’s FIT rate for non-residential solar projects (with outputs at 10kW or above) in 2018 will be lower than in 2017, according to the announcement made by the country’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) on 7 February. Specifically, the rate will be cut by 14% from 21 yen per kWh in the 2017 scheme to yen per kWh in the new 2018 scheme (excluding taxes). With the reduction of 3 yen, the rate is less than half of what it was when the scheme was implemented in July 2012.
Private credit analysis firm Tokyo Shoko Research (TSR) stated on 12 January that there were 88 cases of bankruptcies in Japan’s solar industry during 2017, showing a sharp increase of 35.4% compared with the case figures in 2016. TSR also pointed out that 2017 was the third consecutive year of record high number of bankruptcies in Japan’s solar industry since the company began tracking them in 2000. According to TSR, nearly half of the total 88 bankruptcy cases in 2017 (42 to be exact) cited “poor sales” as the main cause.
(The credit of the photo at the top of the article goes to Minoru Karamatsu via Flickr and falls under the license of CC BY-SA 2.0.)