PV Market Looking Up

Stabilizing prices, strong European demand, ongoing shortages of critical components, and green-lit funding are among the most notable trends in the world of photovoltaics, according to Gartner’s James Hines. 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, he said.

Click to EnlargePete Singer
Editor-in-Chief
psinger@pennwell.com

Stabilizing prices, strong European demand, ongoing shortages of critical components, and green-lit funding are among the most notable trends in the world of photovoltaics, according to Gartner’s James Hines. 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, he said.

Hines also sees strong PV demand in Europe. Germany will likely see 7GW this year, and Italy and the Czech Republic 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.

Interestingly, what might prove to be the limiting factor for PV market growth this year is the availability of inverters. Hines said manufacturers are unable to meet demand due to a lack of components they need (e.g. semiconductor devices, capacitors, and resistors).

Other good news is that 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.

Another report, from Solarbuzz, says that Italy, Czech Republic, the United States, and potentially even Japan are all capable of becoming just the third country to ever install 1 GW of PV in a single year. Recent key policy enhancements in Japan and the US have set the ground work for significant growth in these already substantial markets. PV project order books in China and India indicate that those two regions are also well positioned to make a material contribution to global market growth over the next two years, the report notes. Nearly 100 planned installations in China add up to an order book of 18.6 GW, while the Indian pipeline contributes a further 4.8 GW.

 

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