After five years of turmoil where solar glass manufacturers saw prices on their products plunge about 50 percent, glass prices are due for stabilization and even a long-term increase starting in 2015, according to a new report from IHS Technology.
The rebound is the result of anti-dumping duties levied by the European Union going into effect on Chinese suppliers. Average pricing for glass used in photovoltaic (PV) systems is forecast to fall to $4.60 per square meter this year, down from $10.40 per square meter in 2009, IHS forecasts. The good news is that beginning in 2015, prices will stabilize and even increase in the coming years. IHS sees solar glass pricing rising to $5.90 per square meter by 2018, up 11 percent from the low point this year.
“The sharp drop in solar glass prices during the last five years was the result of massive oversupply in the market,” said Karl Melkonyan, solar research analyst at IHS Technology, in a statement. “Chinese government subsidies on solar glass caused domestic suppliers to increase production and exports. However, the European Union’s move to impose countervailing duties on solar glass imported from China will limit supply in the market, leading to an expected increase in prices.”
China drives down prices
Driven by government subsidies, numerous manufacturers of glass in China entered the solar glass space and immediately began an aggressive price strategy in overseas markets. This was very similar to what the country did in the module space. As a result of a strong oversupply, prices plummeted. The result was a strong increase in the number of imported glass to Europe. In 2014, IHS forecasts that Chinese manufacturers will account for 27 percent of total solar glass supply in Europe, up from 2.5 percent in 2010.
Because of the high imports coming from China, the lost profits and shutdowns of factories for European solar glass producers didn’t sit well with the European Union. As a result, the EU in May imposed a five-year tariff on solar glass from China in the range of about 3 percent to 17 percent, depending on the level of subsidy that a solar glass company received from China.