PV modules sink in 1Q11; blame Italy

PV module shipments fell by nearly 10% in 1Q11 from the prior quarter (4Q10), the first Q/Q decline in two years, as uncertainty about Italy’s solar market grips the sector, according to IMS Research.

May 11, 2011 – PV module shipments fell by nearly 10% in 1Q11 from the prior quarter (4Q10), the first Q/Q decline in two years, as uncertainty about Italy’s solar market grips the sector, according to IMS Research.

Demand in Italy “came to a standstill overnight” once the nation announced it would suspend and rewrite its feed-in tariff policies; the result has been swelling inventories and plunging end-market prices. “Suppliers that are dependent on the Italian market saw demand for their products quickly evaporate when the feed-in tariff was suspended,” notes Sam Wilkinson, PV market analyst at IMS Research, in a statement. While many manufacturers have rapidly pulled back their production to prevent product overflow, distributors had already built stockpiles, pushing total worldwide PV module inventory to a record >10GW in 2Q11 — and “many companies have already begun dumping prices in order to clear it,” he says.

The Italian government has finally confirmed a new incentive scheme, which is hoped to rejuvenate what was the second-largest P market in 2010, and put the brakes on rapidly decreasing prices. But injured investor confidence and subsidy caps will probably keep the Italian market below its 2010 size at least for this year.

Despite Italy’s turmoil, IMS sees nearly 20% growth in 2011 global PV module shipments, thanks to demand from new gigawatt-scale markets (i.e. the US) and continued demand from other European countries.


Global PV module shipments, Q/Q change. (Source: IMS Research)

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