JinkoSolar sheds light on Japan ambitions riding on latest panels

China‘s JinkoSolar Holding aims to build on its leading share of the Japanese solar panel market, ready to launch its new, more powerful model in the country this month, Global Vice President Dany Qian told Nikkei in an interview.

The move comes as Chinese players assert their dominance in the global solar panel market, driven by competitive pricing as well as marked improvements in the quality of their products. JinkoSolar in particular has seen sales surge in Southeast Asia, India and Australia in addition to Japan.

JinkoSolar estimated that it shipped over 20 gigawatts of solar cells in 2021, and aspires to double that result to 40 GW in 2022, according to Qian. “We’ve been working on expanding our production capacity, including building a new factory in Vietnam,” she said.

In Japan, the company estimated that it maintained its market primacy with an approximately 17% share, tallying 1.1 GW to 1.2 GW in shipments, Qian said. JinkoSolar seeks to grow its presence in what the vice president called a “relatively stable market.”

Qian noted that Japan is set to introduce a market-linked feed-in premium in April alongside its existing feed-in tariff.

“New approvals have declined for the feed-in tariff, which provides a steady income, and development of megasolar facilities has been scaled back,” she explained, adding “that will undoubtedly have a negative impact on shipments for industrial solar” systems.

Looking ahead, JinkoSolar plans to focus more on the residential market. “Installation of rooftop panels has been accelerating, and demand is high,” Qian said.

The company also intends to sell about 5,000 household storage batteries in 2022 in partnership with distributors, according to Qian, and is considering entering the market for large-scale batteries as well.

Its new Tiger Neo solar module, unveiled in November, “should meet the expectations of Japanese customers who want powerful and highly efficient panels,” the vice president said. The Tiger Neo boasts a maximum output of 620 watts, with 22.3% efficiency and less than 1% degradation in the first year, according to the company.

JinkoSolar is slated to begin supplying the Tiger Neo this month, and the product is expected to replace about 20% to 30% of its shipments to Japan, Qian said.

Yet Qian acknowledged that rising material costs had affected the company. She declined to comment on the exact impact on panel prices, saying: “We’ve been making an effort to control costs, including by working with materials makers to switch to long-term supply contracts.”

When asked about the Biden administration’s decision in February to extend a safeguard tariff on solar panels for four years, Qian said she was “not in a position to comment on U.S. policies.”

Still, she expected the measure to hinder U.S. efforts to adopt renewable energy.

“It will likely lead to higher construction costs for solar farms,” she said. “Our company has facilities within the U.S. as well, and we project a certain level of impact on our sales.”


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