Four key takeways from Intersolar: Pricing, demand, shortages, financing

Stabilizing prices, strong European demand, ongoing shortages of critical components, and finally some green-lit funding were key messages coming out of last week’s Intersolar conference in Munich, according to Gartner’s James Hines.

June 18, 2010 – Stabilizing prices, strong European demand, ongoing shortages of critical components, and finally some green-lit funding were key messages coming out of last week’s Intersolar conference in Munich, according to Gartner’s James Hines.

In a research note, he lists the four main points:

Prices stable, modest increases possible. Module prices are in the ~$1.70/W range. Chinese manufacturers can’t cut prices because of still-low Euro valuations, and tight supply is underpinning pricing. There’s some talk among manufacturers about raising prices, with module ASPs likely rising ~5% in 2H10.

Strong PV demand in Europe. For all the handwringing over its FiT plans, Germany will likely see 7GW this year, and Italy and the Czech Republics are also hot markets with possibly ≥1GW each by year’s end. Greece’s financial crisis seems to have had “little direct impact on PV demand,” since the bulk of project financing is foreign-based, and incentives are (for the time being) intact.

PV inverters are still scarce. Inverter manufacturers are unable to meet demand — to the point of being apologetic about it — due to a lack of components they need (e.g. semiconductor devices, capacitors, and resistors). And there seems to be no resolution on the horizon. “Inverter availability might prove to be the limiting factor for the PV market in 2010,” Hines writes.

Project financing is back. Among the PV industry’s woes in 2009 was that financial supporters for PV projects promptly shut off their spigots. But this now appears to be a thing of the past — project financing “appears to be largely resolved in European PV markets,” Hines says. And investors are “back to the table” in the US as well, as credit markets recover and visibility improves for domestic renewable energy programs in the stimulus package.

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