Shawn (Xiaohua) Qu, CEO and Chairman of Canadian Solar
BY Sarah Jeong (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Can you tell us a little about Canadian Solar?
Canadian Solar Inc. is one of the world? largest solar companies. As a leading vertically-integrated provider of ingots, wafers, solar cells, solar modules and other solar applications, Canadian Solar designs, manufactures and delivers solar products and solar system solutions for on-grid and off-grid use to customers worldwide. With operations in North America, Europe and Asia, Canadian Solar provides premium quality, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly solar solutions to support global, sustainable development.
What challenges do you see for the global solar industry in the context of the recent revisions on solar subsidies in many countries?
Big changes in subsidies create panic buying that is not good for the industry as a whole. The current surge for modules has not only created a module shortage, but also put the upward pressure on price. This is not good for installers and manufacturers along the value chain as the sudden module demand surge makes planning a big challenge.
Canadian Solar now operates in 7 countries including Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea and the United States. Is there any distinctive market character among them? If so, please share it with our readers.
There are similarities and differences with each market. For example, in Japan and Canada, the customer prefers complete solutions. In Europe, we mainly sell only modules.
Canadian Solar was founded in Ontario, Canada in 2001. What obstacles have you encountered making inroads into the global solar industry?
Being a global company, there have been many challenges along the road. Rapidly expanding our capacity to meet our customers’ growing demands certainly has been one of the challenges, and we believe that we have met that challenge successfully. The silicon shortages of 2007 and 2008, and the financial crisis of 2009 presented great challenges, but we believe these challenges provided Canadian Solar an opportunity to showcase just how robust our company and our strategy is within the global market.
project in Korea / USA
Please tell us briefly on the current status of the Canadian solar market.
If you are speaking of the market in Canada, we are very bullish on the opportunity. The feed-in tariff in Ontario is arguably one of the best in the world. We have been building our team and strategy in Ontario for almost a year now. Project applications are starting to be approved, and we believe this will be a great market for us. We also believe that other provinces and states will soon follow the Ontario model.
How long do you think it will be before solar PV becomes competitive with conventional energy resources? I mean, when would the PV industry reach grid parity?
In some markets, we are already there. If you figure the true cost of conventional energy, we are at parity in considerably more markets. I believe most analysts believe grid parity in general will occur in the next couple of years in a majority of the electricity generation market.
project in Germany
In your view, what are the opportunities and challenges of PV industry in 2010?
One priority is dealing with the huge demand in Germany caused by the FiT reductions this summer. This has put a big challenge on our production facilities. We want to provide for all of our customers, meanwhile we have new markets to pursue as well.
Which country do you think will lead the global PV market in the near future? And what will be the growth engine?
It is hard to say who will lead. Certainly, there are many attractive new markets opening up, as well as strong existing ones. We will not pick winners, but try to be ready to serve all the markets when they are ready.
Where will you put stress on in terms of market strategy in 2010?
Every year our number one priority is quality and customer satisfaction. Deliver a quality value to your customer and they will come back. Our market strategy will be more and more to provide solutions. We are developing a strong team to provide hardware, and even financing solutions for our customers.
How will the solar industry look like in 5 years?
We see the rapid growth of our industry continuing. We believe solar solutions will become more and more competitive. We see a trend of countries wanting sustainable energy, economies, and jobs. Solar is the perfect industry to provide these sustainable solutions to some of the world? toughest problems.
Could you share some of your plans for 2010?
We will continue our production capacity expansion going over the 1 GW level this year. We have major initiatives in several new markets including Canada and Eastern Europe. We will continue to offer new solutions and expand our partnerships around the globe.
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