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Shipping Guide for Imported PV Products from China

As the world pays more and more attention to climate issues, accelerating the development of renewable energy has become the mainstream direction of global energy transformation. In recent years, my country’s photovoltaic industry has developed rapidly, technology has continued to advance, and its international status has continued to improve. According to data from the Global Trade Information System (GTA), in 2008, China’s photovoltaic product exports surpassed Japan for the first time and ranked first in the world. Since then, it has maintained the first place for 16 consecutive years until 2024.

Photovoltaic products

Why choose China to import photovoltaic products?

China’s photovoltaic product factories have grown from OEM to global leader:

For a long time, my country’s photovoltaic industry has been dominated by processing and manufacturing, and it is in the middle and lower reaches of the industrial chain. It only took more than 10 years to complete the transformation from OEM to leading. According to China Customs data, in the first 11 months of 2021, my country’s solar cell exports with an FOB price of 141.77 billion yuan, accounting for 86.2%, an increase of 42.9 percentage points from the whole year of 2010, while the export share of processing trade in the same period was 55.1% dropped to 8.4%. Silicon material is the basic raw material in the upstream of the photovoltaic industry, with complex technical processes and high industrial added value. In recent years, Chinese photovoltaic factories have continued to explore and accumulate, gradually mastering the core technology of polysilicon production and getting rid of their dependence on foreign countries. From 2010 to 2020, China’s proportion of global polysilicon production increased significantly from 28.1% to 76%.

In addition, in the field of silicon wafers, China also occupies an absolute dominant position, accounting for 97.4% of global output in 2020. China has formed a complete industry chain in subdivided industries such as cells, battery components, and silicon wafers. The application system has formed the largest and most complete photovoltaic industry chain cluster in the world.

Chinese photovoltaic suppliers build their own brands and enhance their influence:

In the first 11 months of 2021, China’s private enterprises exported 115.01 billion yuan of solar cells, accounting for 70%, an increase of 48.5 percentage points compared with the whole of 2010, while the proportion of foreign-funded enterprises fell from 69.7% to 25.8% in the same period. Among the top 20 global photovoltaic companies in terms of revenue in 2020, Chinese companies occupy 15 seats. The top 5 are all Chinese companies, including LONGi, GCL Holdings, JinkoSolar, Trina Solar, and Lister Solar. Among them LONGi’s revenue was as high as US$4.72 billion.

The prices of my country’s photovoltaic products are more competitive and the bargaining power is enhanced:

In the field of silicon wafers, polycrystalline silicon wafers once held a leading position. Since 2015, suppliers represented by LONGi have achieved technological breakthroughs, significantly reducing the cost of monocrystalline silicon wafers, further promoting the substitution of monocrystalline silicon wafers for polycrystalline silicon wafers, and significantly reducing the price of solar cells. According to Chinese customs data, China’s solar cell export price in 2020 was 50.3 yuan/piece, a 60.3% decrease from 2015. On the other hand, starting from July 2020, the cost and price of raw materials such as silicon materials and silicon wafers have dropped significantly. Solar cells have emerged one after another. As the concentration of my country’s downstream parts and components market increases, the bargaining power is further enhanced, and the export price of products is also rising along with the increase in raw materials. In the first 11 months of 2021, China’s solar cell export prices increased by 12.2% year-on-year.

Photovoltaic supplier costs increase significantly:

Taking silicon materials as an example, as of December 20, 2021, the spot price of domestic polysilicon materials (raw materials) has increased sharply by 208.6% year-on-year. It is expected that the supply and demand of silicon materials will remain unbalanced in the first half of 2022, and rising raw material prices have increased cost pressure on downstream companies. In addition, solar cell exports are mainly transported by containers, accounting for 96.3% of total exports in the first 11 months of 2021. As of December 17, 2021, China’s export container freight index (CCFI) has increased, a sharp increase of 118% year-on-year. High freight rates have further increased the burden on exporters. Basenton Logistics has negotiated shipping prices for many photovoltaic products, when you import from China, contact us to get the best export shipping cost for photovoltaic products. Better reduce your import costs. As a leading freight forwarder in China, Basenton helps customers from the USA, Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco, Algeria, India, Brazil, Chile, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand etc., in order to deliver photovoltaic products to their destination safely, they profit from our cheap sea transportation.

Photovoltaic products

How to purchase photovoltaic panels from China?

One of the best and most convenient ways to find suppliers in China is to use online shopping B2B websites. The most popular are Alibaba and Made in China (check other B2B sites). You can also go the traditional route and attend trade shows in your industry, meet with suppliers, or travel to major production areas. The third way is to use the services of professionals to find suppliers, so-called sourcing companies.

Imported photovoltaic panels are a hot topic. In such cases, importers must take adequate precautions. No matter how you meet a potential Chinese partner, verify the supplier. You can find out whether the supplier you choose is a manufacturer or a trading company.

The next step is to sign a cooperation agreement that is valid under Chinese law. If the requirements are met, the supplier must comply with the regulations. For example, if a clause states that the manufacturer provides a 25-year warranty, the company must keep its promise.

Do not buy bulk solar panels before testing the quality of the product. First, request a sample. After adjustment, you can place orders in batches. Once 20-30% of the product is produced, the first quality control is required, known as the “production inspection period.” At this stage, production errors can be eliminated without significant cost. Quality control can then be carried out before shipment and during container loading. Pre-shipment control is carried out after production is completed. Inspectors should oversee container loading to ensure that the correct product in the right amount is packed correctly and is ready for shipment.

Where are solar panels produced in China?

China’s photovoltaic panels are mainly produced in the southeastern region of China, Anhui, Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces. Let’s take a look at where most of the manufacturers in China’s photovoltaic industry are:

Solar panels: Hefei, Wuxi, Nanjing, Yangzhou
Foldable solar panels: Shenzhen, Yangzhou
Solar power generation system: Hefei, Foshan, Yangzhou, Shenzhen

U.S. imposes tariffs on Chinese photovoltaic panels

One of the things that importers must check before placing an order is checking the tax rate. U.S. tariff rates for solar panels can be found in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule.

8504.40.95 – Inverter – 0%
8501.31.81 – Generator – 2.5%
8541.42.10 – Crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, not assembled into modules or panels – 0%
8541.43.00 – Crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells assembled into modules or panels – 0%
8541.10.00 – Diodes, other than photosensitive or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) – 0%

What certification is used for solar panels in the US?

UL 1703 is one of the NRTL photovoltaic module certifications. It covers flat-panel photovoltaic modules and panels that meet OSHA, National Electrical Code (NEC) and National Fire Protection Association requirements.

Photovoltaic panels are not legally required to bear the UL mark. However, without the NRTL mark, solar panels cannot be connected to the grid and are therefore generally of no use to the end user.

Alternatives to the UL mark are the TUV (Rhineland), CSA, IEC (International “Electronic Technology” Committee) and ETL (Electrical Test Laboratory) marks.

Shipping methods for importing photovoltaic products from China

There are several options for shipping goods from China to your country. Air freight is the most common method, but can be expensive. Rail freight is cheaper but may take longer to get your PV products to you. Shipping by sea is the cheapest option, but getting your PV products to you can be more time-consuming.

By sea and air from China

Air freight

Air freight is the fastest and safest way to transport goods. You can choose between regular or express shipping options, the latter being more expensive. Door to door shipping usually takes 3 to 5 business days. Standard air shipping time will not exceed 10 days.

Sea freight

Sea freight is the cheapest option but also takes longer. Shipping by sea is easy as there are major ports on both sides. Some of the most important ones in China are located in Ningbo, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Dalian.

Click to read:China’s 10 Most Important Shipping Ports In 2024

The biggest advantage of sea shipping is flexibility. You can ship PV products virtually by sea. The next big trend in ocean shipping is the LCL shipping model.

Rail transport

If your country is in Eurasia and has a railway connection with China, all kinds of products, large and small, can be transported from China to your country by railway. Therefore, it is cost-effective to transport various items. You can save time and effort by transporting goods from China to your country by rail.

Rail freight is 40% faster than sea freight and half the price of air freight. This makes it a cost-effective way to transport photovoltaic products from rail.

Rail freight allows you to make smaller, faster, more frequent shipments. Therefore, you can change your inventory to meet your customers’ changing needs.

The price of shipping photovoltaic products from China will vary with the cost of different countries.

If your country is UAE, you can read:How Much Does It Cost To Shipping From China To UAE , 20ft & 40ft Container Cost From China To UAE

Your country is Italy and you can read:How Much Does It Cost To Ship From China To Italy

If your country is Brazil, you can read:How Much Does It Cost To Ship From China To Brazil

Of course it is best to contact Basenton Logistics for your quote.

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