Canadian Solar Inc., the third-biggest panel maker, expects a potential shortage of supply in the second half of this year as demand increases worldwide.
“Imbalance may appear,” Chief Executive Officer Shawn Qu said in an interview in Shanghai on Tuesday. “Customers’ real demand has been growing.”
The forecast for scarcity contrasts with a glut that wiped out profits across the industry in the early part of this decade. It helps explain decisions by the top manufacturers including Trina Solar Ltd. and JinkoSolar Holding Co. to build more capacity.
The industry may install about 57.2 gigawatts this year, up from 40 gigawatts in 2013, Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates.
Canadian Solar plans to almost double its own panel capacity from 2013 levels. It maintained its plans to expand to 3.5 gigawatts after June from more than 3 gigawatts currently, Qu said. Along with supply from original equipment manufacturing, total capacity will reach more than 4 gigawatts, he said.
Its new cell factory in Funing, Jiangsu province, will also add 400 megawatts of capacity in the fourth quarter to bring the total to as much as 2 gigawatts.
Canadian Solar earned a record $239 million last year on $2.96 billion in sales and panel shipments of 3.1 gigawatts. It expects to sell as much as 4.3 gigawatts of panels this year, a 39 percent increase.
The company completed its $265 million purchase of the San Francisco-based developer Recurrent Energy from Sharp Corp. in March. That deal expanded the company’s power-project pipeline to 8.5 gigawatts.
Canadian Solar plans an initial public offering for a proposed yieldco, a separate company that will own and operate completed power plants, as early as the second half, Qu said. The model is becoming increasingly popular in the renewable energy industry and can help lower borrowing costs.
Canadian Solar will put low-risk projects from the U.S., U.K., Canada and Japan in the yieldco, Qu said.
He expects Canadian Solar to generate sales of about $3 billion this year from manufacturing and a solar power projects that won’t be allocated to the yieldco.
The company will complete 1 gigawatt of projects from Recurrent Energy by the end of 2016, he said.
— With assistance by Feifei Shen