Under the Imbalance Between Supply and Demand, the Price of Photovoltaic Glass Continues to Rise

PVTIME - The latest data from photovoltaic consulting agency PVInfoLink shows that the price of photovoltaic glass has risen from 23 yuan/square meter at the beginning of the year to 30 yuan/square meter currently. Take the 3.2mm coated glass as an example, the mainstream price has increased by about 46% this year, and supply has become harder to find. Some photovoltaic module manufacturers have said that the current cost of using glass for each solar module is now nearly 60 yuan/piece, which equates to about 0.15 yuan per watt; in bifacial modules, the cost per watt becomes as high as 0.3 yuan per watt.

In fact, the price of photovoltaic glass has been rising since 2019. The industry generally believes that the continuous increase in the price of photovoltaic glass is mainly due to its production output being far smaller than the demand of the rapidly developing photovoltaic industry.

Photovoltaic glass is an upstream raw material used in the production of photovoltaic modules, and also the only choice for photovoltaic module packaging materials under current technical conditions. With the continuous growth of global photovoltaic installations, especially the continuous strengthening of the adoption and application of bifacial modules, the demand for photovoltaic glass has grown substantially, exuding an average annual growth rate of more than 20%.

However, in recent years, the year-on-year growth rate of photovoltaic glass production capacity is only about 10%, and have become a bottleneck for the photovoltaic industrial chain due to supply shortages. According to incomplete statistics, the production capacity of photovoltaic modules in 2021 will be about 200GW. With the acceleration of the application of bifacial modules and other factors, the gap between supply and demand of PV glass is likely to expand further.

Under such circumstances, photovoltaic glass producing enterprises have expanded their production capacity. Currently, it is expected that the theoretical output of PV glass will only be able to support about 140-150GW of modules.

According to industry insiders, PV glass production expansions have to match the actual developmental pace of the photovoltaic industry. "Under the currently market environment where glass supply shortage is prevalent, companies have the motivation to expand production, but it is not easy to find indicators for capacity replacement," one expert commented.

Some experts have pointed out that, although China is the leading country for both PV glass manufacturing technology and production capacity, its competitiveness on the international level may shrink due to being restricted by the “de-capacity” and “capacity replacement” of the glass manufacturers. Some opinions suggest that the development status of the photovoltaic glass industry should be reassessed so as to fully utilize the market mechanism in China.