Pike Research: Solar Market Will Grow 43% in 2010

Starting in late 2008, the solar market shifted from supply-constricted to demand-driven within a few quarters due to the plunging price of crystalline silicon cells and modules spurred by falling polysilicon cost, constrained availability of credit, Spain’s dramatic demand decline, and the growth of thin film supply and market share. According to a new white paper from Pike Research, while solar demand will experience strong growth this year, these events have had a strong influence on which companies will lead the industry in 2010 and beyond and which will face low profit margins and possible consolidation.

“The solar market is now faced with a gross oversupply of modules,” said Dave Cavanaugh, a senior analyst at Pike. “The industry is currently supplied by more than 190 cell and module manufacturers, making consolidation of weaker competitors an inevitable outcome.”

Cavanaugh said that in the meantime, overcapacity and intense competition will create downward pressure for module average selling prices (ASPs), which will accelerate grid parity for the cost of solar-produced power to the 2013 timeframe in many markets.

A few of Pike Research’s other key forecasts and findings about the new solar market include the following that worldwide solar demand, driven by lower costs and greater availability of credit, will increase to 10.1 gigawatts (GW) in 2010, a year-over-year increase of almost 43%.

The report also finds that solar market demand will exceed 19 GW by 2013, a 25% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2010. Growth is expected to be driven by demand from the United States, Italy, and China, in addition to steady demand from Germany and demand growth in a number of smaller countries.

Pike said that excess module supply could easily reach 8.3 GW in 2010, even accounting for reasonable utilization rates and moderate capacity growth.

Pike Research’s paper, “The New Solar Market”, examines the new competitive differentiators that will determine success for solar companies following the market upheaval of the past two years. The report analyzes the market dynamics and implications for key companies associated with module oversupply and a large number of competitors, and provides insights on the importance of cost per watt, module efficiency, supply chain integration, and other key factors.

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