China exported 154 GW of solar cells, 24 GW of solar cells and 41 GW of wafers in 2022. In 2026, annual exports of cells and wafers could reach 230 GW and module shipments could reach 149 GW, according to Wood Mackenzie.
Last year, China exported 154 GW of modules, and Europe remained the top market with a share of 56 percent. According to Wood Mackenzie, Chinese modules were also 57% cheaper than those made in the United States and the European Union.
The upward trend continues, with Europe importing around 29.5 GW of Chinese modules in the first quarter of this year, based on pv magazine. Wafer shipments rose 44% to 41 GW, while solar cell exports topped 24 GW. Southeast Asia received 31% of cells made in China.
“US tariffs on modules made in China have shifted module production to Southeast Asia, where many manufacturing facilities import cells from China,” said Wood Mackenzie.
The authors of the report stated that the cost advantage of Chinese companies challenges offshoring policies in the United States, the European Union and India. China’s wafer and cell export capacity is expected to exceed 230 GW by 2026, outstripping global demand outside of China. By 2026, China’s available module export capacity is projected to gradually increase to 149 GW.
“The U.S. is relying on the (Inflation Reduction Act) to allocate at least $41 billion to boost domestic production. But costs still favor imported modules, and while local module production will come online in the coming years, there will be continued dependence on component imports from Asia,” said Alex Whitworth, Wood Mackenzie’s research director. “In Europe, the EU supports trade restrictions to secure local solar power production, but has no specific policies to increase capacity and displace imports. India also has big goals to expand its solar power production, but financial support is not enough to achieve aggressive goals.