IHS announced that quarterly solar photovoltaic (PV) module revenue (excluding processing service revenue) by the 20 leading global suppliers increased to $5.9 billion in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2014. According to findings in the company's latest Module Tracker Quarterly report, due to a sharp decline in module prices, quarterly revenues have not been higher, since the third quarter (Q3) of 2011.
Compared to Q4 2013, quarterly module revenue of the 20 leading suppliers increased 12 percent, driven by strong growth of their total module shipment volume, which reached 8.8 gigawatts (GW) in the fourth quarter of 2014. Full year 2014 module revenue by these suppliers also grew to $21.4 billion.
"To fund their capacity expansion or acquisition, PV module suppliers must continuously increase their revenues," said Ray Lian, principal analyst for IHS Technology, formerly with Solarbuzz. "As these companies gain more market share, we can expect to see further industry consolidation."
Total module shipments from the 20 leading suppliers were the equivalent of 68 percent of global PV module demand in 2014, compared to only 60 percent in 2011. Both Trina Solar and Yingli Green Energy shipped more than 3 GW of modules in 2014.
During Q4 2014, the average selling price (ASP) for modules was negatively affected by the strong appreciation of the U.S. dollar against most other currencies, as well as by the elevated share of modules shipped to China and other low-ASP regions. The blended ASP of the 20 leading suppliers decreased 4 percent in Q4, compared to the previous quarter.
Continuous cost reduction efforts, including module efficiency improvements, helped to mitigate declining ASPs. The blended module cost-of-goods-sold of the top 20 suppliers fell below $0.6 per watt for the first time, reaching just $0.58 per watt in the fourth quarter of 2014. Blended gross margins only slightly increased to 14 percent. "PV module revenues of the 20 leading suppliers will continue to grow, as they benefit from both robust global PV demand growth and increasing market share," Lian said. "We expect them to reach historic revenue heights, as early as the fourth quarter of 2015."