Benefitting from the continual influx of rush orders, Taiwanese manufacturers have had their hands full in Q1. While the industry is wondering whether this will continue into Q2 or not, according to research by EnergyTrend, TrendForce's green energy research division, makers have already begun negotiating orders for April. As some makers have even initiated discussion with clients about long-term OEM project, makers indicate visibility is satisfactory for the time being. Related vendors are extremely conservative towards the current market, and unwilling to make conclusive statements about the Q2 outlook.
Affected by EU and U.S. antidumping lawsuits, the number of Chinese PV makers turning to cooperate with Taiwanese manufacturers has increased significantly, but activity has been limited to the midstream solar cell and module sector. According to EnergyTrend, currently Chinese manufacturers are either adopting direct investment or establishing new companies by joint venture in Taiwan. Although Chinese makers’ movements in Taiwan are preparations for the storm, related vendors indicate that the expansion of capacity and human resources will still depend on future order status. Currently, major Taiwanese makers’ product lines and human resources are currently at 80-90%. First-tier manufacturers’ annualized capacity remains fully loaded, while second and third-tier makers are utilizing over 60% capacity.
Furthermore, according to EnergyTrend, the cooperative activity is coming from Japan as well. To reduce production cost, Japanese manufacturer Sharp has placed more orders with Taiwanese solar cell makers. In addition to solar cell OEM, Sharp has also begun placing PV inverter orders with Taiwanese manufacturers, but at low volume. EnergyTrend believes Sharp is testing the waters in Taiwan, looking for potential long-term partners to help drive cost down.