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Asia Surpasses Europe to Become China’s Top Overseas Market for Photovoltaic Exports

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Lithium battery

Affected by the decline in product prices, the first quarter of lithium batteries, and solar cell exports amount declined.

China’s lithium battery, and solar cell export data in the first quarter of this year.

On April 22, the General Administration of Customs website disclosed data showing that in the first quarter of this year, China’s lithium battery cumulative export amount of 13.197 billion U.S. dollars (about 95.6 billion yuan), a year-on-year decline of 17.4%; lithium battery cumulative export volume of 880 million, an increase of 5.8%.

Lithium batteries cover different product types such as power, energy storage, and consumer batteries. The above statistics did not disclose the specific classification information of domestic lithium battery exports.

During the same period, solar battery exports amounted to about $9.067 billion (about 65.707 billion yuan), down 30.5 percent year-on-year.

Lithium batteries and electric passenger cars, solar cells, and known as China’s exports of the “new three”.

Last year, China’s “new three kinds” of products exported a total of 1.06 trillion yuan, exceeding the trillion mark for the first time, an increase of 29.9 percent. Among them, lithium battery exports totaled $65.07 billion (about 466.6 billion yuan), an increase of 27.8 percent.

Since last year, photovoltaic products have been in all segments of the volume increase and price reduction situation. China Business Industry Research Institute database data show that in 2023, China’s solar cell exports 5.637 billion, up 38.5%, amounting to $43.682 billion (about 316.55 billion yuan), down 5.7% year-on-year.

This is mainly affected by the overall decline in the price of the PV industry chain. At the end of last year, the winning price of PV modules had fallen below 1 yuan/W, down more than 40% from the beginning of the year. Since this year, the price reduction trend has not changed, the current component price is less than 0.9 yuan / W.

From the photovoltaic export place, in the first quarter of this year, Asia surpassed Europe to become China’s exports of the first large overseas market. The scale of exports to Asia reached 4.359 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for 48%; due to the impact of overseas high inventory and other factors, the scale of exports to Europe fell to 3.096 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for about 34%.

Among them, the scale of exports to Asia in March reached 1.46 billion U.S. dollars, an increase of 0.4 percent year-on-year, an increase of 5 percent; exports to Europe scale of 1.25 billion U.S. dollars, a year-on-year decrease of 55 percent, a year-on-year increase of 26 percent.

Last year, due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and other reasons, Europe’s demand for new energy soared, even in the traditional off-season demand. That year, Europe was China’s photovoltaic products’ most important export market, accounting for about 42% of total exports.

The industry is still optimistic about the overall export of photovoltaic products this year. China Post New pointed out that in 2024, with the gradual digestion of inventory issues as well as price drops brought about by the demand stimulus, the expected annual component exports are expected to achieve more than 30% growth.

Lithium battery product exports fell in the first quarter, also due to the impact of falling product prices.

From January to March this year, China’s lithium battery export amount in a single month is less than in the same period last year, and the rate of decline gradually expanding. In March this year, China’s lithium battery export value than the same period last year fell 21.9%.

But in terms of the number of lithium battery exports in a single month, January-February this year still maintains positive growth, only in March there is a year-on-year decline in the number of exports, a drop of 2.37%.

China Chemical and Physical Power Industry Association, the former Secretary-General Liu Yanlong analyzed that this year, China’s lithium battery exports for three consecutive months are reduced, mainly by this year’s lithium-ion battery export prices compared with the same period last year, there has been a sharp decline in the impact.

In the first quarter of this year, China’s average export price of a single lithium battery was 14.99 U.S. dollars, a year-on-year decline of 21.7%.

Due to lithium carbonate and other upstream raw material prices falling sharply, as well as intensified market competition and other factors, the domestic lithium battery prices in the past year, the average price of lithium battery cells at the end of March this year have slipped to about 0.4 yuan/watt-hour. Battery uses the core-module-battery pack assembly mode, the core is the smallest unit of the battery pack.

Liu Yanlong also analyzed that the U.S. ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ for China’s lithium battery exports is also showing the impact.

In the first quarter of this year, the United States is still China’s lithium-ion battery export destination, accounting for 22% of total exports. The United States has previously ranked China’s lithium battery exports for four consecutive years as the first destination.

For the first quarter, China’s lithium battery exports to the United States amounted to $2.908 billion (about RMB 21 billion), down 11.23 percent year-on-year.

The Inflation Reduction Act encourages enterprises to establish a power battery industry chain in North America, and provides a $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles assembled in North America, but has strict standards for the sources of key minerals, components, and other components in the power batteries it carries.

Last December, the U.S. government issued the Inflation Reduction Act Guidance for Foreign Sensitive Entities (hereinafter referred to as the Entity Guidance), which makes it clear that starting in 2024, vehicles containing battery components manufactured or assembled by foreign sensitive entities will be ineligible for the Inflation Reduction Act tax credit.

All companies incorporated in China or in which the Chinese government owns 25 percent or more of the shares will be considered foreign-sensitive entities. The move is designed to prevent Chinese companies from benefiting from the aforementioned tax credits offered by the U.S. government, and exports of lithium batteries for the U.S. market have been affected as a result.

Germany and South Korea are the second and third-largest export destinations for Chinese lithium batteries. In the first quarter of this year, China’s lithium battery exports to the two countries also fell more than 7% and 55% respectively.

According to the division of export sources, the first quarter of the domestic lithium battery exports ranked the top three provinces, respectively, Fujian, Guangdong, and Jiangsu, with the ranking of the whole of last year. Among them, the highest export amount of Fujian Province, in the first quarter total exports of lithium batteries 3.52 billion U.S. dollars (about 25.5 billion yuan), accounting for 26.6%.

However, the above three provinces in the first quarter of the lithium battery export value have declined, the largest drop is Jiangsu Province, down 34.3%!

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