Yingli Green Energy Holding Co., the sixth-biggest silicon-based solar module maker, said it expects shipments to rise as much as 56 percent this year after a slump in the fourth quarter when the market was oversupplied.
The company forecast module shipments of 2.4 gigawatts to 2.5 gigawatts this year, compared to 1.6 gigawatts during 2011, according to a statement. Shipments in the fourth quarter were down 30 percent from the third quarter as gross margins slipped to 3 percent from 10.8 percent.
Yingli posted a net loss of $509.8 million for the full year even as it increased shipments by 51 percent from 2010. The industry experienced “tremendous” pressure on margins as manufacturers boosted supply while European nations that are the biggest solar markets cut incentives for the technology.
“The potential risks are mitigated by the clear increase in PV applications globally as solar electricity has become much more affordable,” said Yingli Chairman Liansheng Miao. “We are confident that we will continue to gain market share.”
Yingli, based in Baoding, increased its sales in China, the country it sees as one of the most promising markets. The company’s sales there rose to 22 percent of its output, compared to 6 percent a year ago, and are forecast to reach 35 percent this year.
“China is expected to sustain its strong growth momentum supported by the boom of the utility segment and the steady growth of the roof-top segment,” Miao said.
In a conference call with investors, Chief Financial Officer Bryan Li said sales to China will amount to 15 percent to 17 percent of the country’s 5,000-megawatt market this year. Germany will amount to about 25 percent of output and the U.S. about 20 percent, he said.
Total module shipments are forecast to rise 30 percent in the first quarter and gross margins will reach about 10 percent, according to Li. Average selling prices will fall by a percentage in the “mid-teens” range compared to the last quarter of 2011 and will continue falling during the year, he said.
After its 750-megawatt expansion, Yingli’s total manufacturing capacity will reach 2,450 megawatts this year.