China places curbs on solar capex, sets investment minimums

|By:, SA News Editor

In an official statement (translation), China's industry/IT ministry says it will ban solar manufacturing projects that "purely" expand capacity. However, the ministry is also mandating a solar company's annual spending on R&D and equipment upgrades combined must exceed 3% of revenue and RMB10M ($1.6M).

Analysts thinks the mandate is a not-so-subtle way of urging companies to merge.

As solar equipment suppliers such as GT Advanced (GTAT +2.7%) and Veeco (VECO -2.1%) can vouch, solar manufacturers (Chinese or otherwise) aren't investing much anyway, as they try to soak up the huge amounts of excess capacity created in past years.

The revenue and gross margin figures provided in the Q2 reports of many solar names (not to mention the YTD performance of their shares) suggest decent progress is being made. Enough so that some think manufacturers will be compelled to add capacity next year.

Most Chinese module vendors are trading lower, but not all of them: YGE -4.4%. STP -3.2%. JASO -2.2%. TSL -0.8%. LDK -0.6%. SOL +0.9%. CSIQ +1%. Polysilicon maker Daqo (DQ +9.9%) is up strongly.