PV inventories bumpy in 1Q11, but no glut

Despite an anticipated surge in PV installations during 2011, the start of the year will be bumpy due to a temporary demand lull and rising inventories, warns IHS iSuppli.

February 21, 2011 – Despite an anticipated surge in PV installations during 2011, the start of the year will be bumpy due to a temporary demand lull and rising inventories, warns IHS iSuppli.

Stockpiles all through the PV supply chain will spike in 1Q11 due to short-term softening for new solar installations: 48 days-of-inventory (DOI) for c-Si modules (up from 37 in 4Q10), and 41 days (vs. 32) for thin-film modules. Cells (37 vs. 31), wafers (19 vs. 14), and polysilicon (28 vs. 24) also are adding nearly a week in DOI.

Although the broad rise in inventories suggests a possible looming overcapacity problem, it will be confined to just the initial two or three months of the year, pegged to the PV market’s subsidy-driven nature, assures Stefan de Haan, senior analyst for PV at IHS. “Feed-in tariffs in many countries decreased on January 1, reducing government incentives to install new systems in early 2011,” he writes in a statement. “Furthermore, demand — usually lighter toward the beginning of any year — also is being depressed by unfavorable weather conditions prevailing in key European countries.”

Looking through the course of 2011, he sees solar demand rebounding sharply to return inventory to “relatively low levels,” for an overall slight increase vs. 2010. Most manufacturers will be able to limit inventories instead of cutting back their production, likely avoiding an inventory glut as was seen in 1H09, de Haan says.

Photovoltaic material and product supplier days of inventory (DOI). (Source: IHS iSuppli)

 

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