JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd. (NYSE Stock Code: JKS) is one of the few PV manufacturers with 1.2 GW capacity in 2011 with a vertically integrated model, producing high-quality crystalline ingots, wafers, cells, and mono- and multi-crystalline PV panels. Our full control over the production chain allows us to guarantee the highest quality for our products and a much more efficient cost structure.
1. The Belgian PV market grew enormously in 2011. Will this growth continue in 2012? And where will Belgium be positioned amongst the world’s top markets this year?
The Belgian PV market as a whole was last year one of the most active markets in the world. According to VREG, the new PV capacity reached almost 700 MWp, transforming Belgium into one of the worldwide leaders in terms of Wp per inhabitant. But when we look at the figures in detail, and take into account Belgian market specifications, it seems that only one of its three domestic markets was performing brilliantly: Flanders.
That said, it seems clear that the potential remains very interesting for PV in Belgium and especially in Wallonia, where the residential market should reach a steady speed during 2012. Nevertheless, a shift is taking place in Flanders, where the majority of the installations are in the residential as opposed to the commercial segment.
Considering all of these aspects, we think that the volume in terms of Wp installed in 2012 should be slightly lower than that of last year. The switch from commercial and industrial installation markets to the residential market is particularly interesting in terms of job creation, but also in terms of diffusing what remains the core idea of our industry: Solar power is one of the best solutions in terms of diminishing our environmental footprint by decreasing long-term electricity costs.
2. The subsidies for Belgian solar power will decrease over the next couple of years. The subsidy will be set at 90 euro in 2016. What will be the consequences of this subsidy cut for the Belgian PV market?
As a leading PV module manufacturer, our job is to keep improving our performance - both in terms of product quality (by ensuring structural increase in our modules' efficiency), and cost structures.
We have been able to decrease our non-silicon costs by almost 30% over the last 15 months, and we must continue in this direction in order to provide valuable solutions to our partners not only in Belgium but also on a global scale. Considering the structural increase in retail electricity prices in Belgium and the decrease in PV systems costs, we strongly believe that, financially speaking, grid parity will be feasible before 2016 on the Belgium coasts for mid-size rooftop installations.
This transition will enable people to see PV not only as a profit-making channel but also as an instrument to reduce electricity bills. Consequently, the residential market should remain very large and PV modules will start to be viewed as simple commodities. On the utility scale and for large installations, the issue of grid parity is less straightforward as electricity production units are subject to other variables than retail electricity prices.
Nevertheless, the PV industry - developers, EPC companies, installers, distributors, financial institutions, and components manufacturers - should remain focused on improving the services and the products' quality/costs ratio in order to enable the market to overcome the subsidies scheme and to compete with other technologies.
3. What is your current position in the Belgian market? And what does Jinko want to achieve in the next couple of years?
The Belgian market was the first international market Jinko Solar entered, and therefore remains one of our best markets in terms of market share. Jinko Solar established strong partnerships with leading Belgian PV companies and has maintained a strong presence in the industrial and commercial market segment. Our target is to keep providing the best solutions to our partners in the industrial and commercial segments, both technically and financially, but also to increase our market share in the residential market segment by strengthening our relationships with Belgian distributors.
Our cost structure, our well-recognised high-quality performance modules, our bankability and track records, our top-notch services and our warehouse in Antwerp should enable us to keep building strong relationships with our current and future partners in Belgium.
As you have probably noticed, and according to IMS Research, in 2011 we increased our ranking by 11 steps in only one year, and Jinko Solar is now the number seven PV company worldwide - and number six if we exclude a US thin film manufacturer. However, despite these figures clearing demonstrating the great job all of our teams have done, we strongly believe that this position does not reflect the value of our products and our company, so we are committed to becoming one of the top three PV manufacturers globally in the years to come.
4. Why is the Belgian PV market an interesting market for Jinko Solar? And how are you planning to support local partners in Belgium with financing and power plant development?
Belgium's PV market is interesting because of the growing interest in the residential market. We will provide our partners with value-added service such as financing solutions from our financing partners/bankers.
5. What do you currently see or expect to see as the major threats or thresholds for the growth of the Belgian PV market?
The declining incentives are definitely a threat. In addition, the financial crisis in Europe is also a threat to the global solar market as a whole.
6. Suppose you were in the year 2015. Looking back, what, in your opinion, will have been the surprise in the PV business during the coming years - something that we did not foresee?
The PV industry has not yet reached the "Twitter" and "Facebook" level. We are all aware of the great potential of PV technology, and I am truly convinced that PV will change the face of the world.
Looking at the developing countries today, where 1.3 billion people are still living without electricity, I cannot believe that a new business model will not emerge from PV, which will give them all access to electricity, as their first step towards development and dignity, hopefully before 2015!