The nation’s two biggest solar cell makers, Motech Industries Inc (茂迪) and Neo Solar Power Corp (新日光), expect to fare well this quarter on growing demand from China and Japan, company executives said yesterday.
The fourth quarter is usually a slow quarter, but Motech chief executive Chang Ping-heng (張秉衡) told reporters that “demand this quarter is likely to be flat from the third quarter … This fourth quarter is quite different from the norm.”
Growing demand from Asian markets such as China and Japan is expected to offset seasonal weakness in Europe in the final quarter of the year, Chang said on the sidelines of a press conference for an annual photovoltaic show in Taipei.
In China, there will be a rush to install solar panels as Beijing is set to adjust its renewable energy subsidy policies next year, while local solar cell makers have received more orders from their Chinese peers, benefiting from the US imposing punitive anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs on Chinese solar cell makers, Chang said.
Demand from Japanese solar plants is also strong as the country is trying to reduce its dependence on nuclear power plants after the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, he said.
Market researcher Solar Buzz forecast that global solar installations this quarter will grow to between 10 gigawatts and 13 gigawatts, with half of the demand coming from China and the US, compared with 9 gigawatts installed last quarter.
“Overall, we are cautiously optimistic about demand as the industry’s visibility is usually short, just about one month,” Chang said. “The solar cell price now is profitable for most local makers.”
Motech posted 25 percent sequential growth in revenue to NT$6.36 billion (US$216 million) last quarter, compared with NT$5.1 billion in the second quarter. The company swung into a profit of NT$1.54 million in the second quarter, compared with a loss of NT$2.22 billion in the same period of last year.
“The worst period is over. The industry has become healthier, which means any solar cell maker will be able to make profits if it manages technologies and costs well,” Neo Solar CEO Sam Hong (洪傳獻) said yesterday. “The industry is stabilizing.”
The solar sector suffered from a slump in 2011 and last year due to overcapacity caused by irrational expansion in China, he said.
Neo Solar returned to the black in the second quarter by making NT$335 million in net profit. It lost NT$347 million in the same period last year.
SEMI Taiwan, one of the co-organizers of the photovoltaic show, yesterday forecast local solar cell makers to grow their shipments by 37.7 percent annually this year to 10 gigawatts.
This year, only 156 companies will showcase their latest products at the show, down about 26 percent from 210 companies last year, SEMI said. The show will start today and run through Friday.
SEMI expects the show to help secure US$100 million in new orders for local solar companies via 100 procurement meetings.