Solar Is Hot: Global PV Market Tops 7 GW

Almost 7.5 GW of new PV capacity was added worldwide in 2009 according to latest confirmed results from IMS Research. On April 9, the German Federal Network Agency finally released its December figures for new PV installations confirming IMS Research’s earlier predictions that the German market grew massively in 2009 to reach 3.8 GW, and in fact the global PV market saw double-digit growth.

“An incredible 1.5 GW of new capacity was installed in Germany in December. This was earlier predicted by IMS Research which measured inverter shipments at 3.5 GW in Q4’09, and also predicted that the global PV market grew by 25% to exceed 7 GW,” said Ash Sharma, IMS’ PV research director. “Despite many in the industry predicting a much smaller market size in 2009, with some even stating the market had declined, IMS Research, which analysed multiple parts of the PV supply chain previously predicted this strong growth. As such, it still stands by its prediction that the PV market – in terms of both shipments of modules and inverters and new installed capacity grew at a double-digit rate in 2009 to exceed the 7 GW mark.”

Despite the upcoming cut to Germany’s FIT, IMS Research still forecasts the global PV market will grow in 2010, up to 10 GW in terms of new installations with strong demand coming from many different countries.

Data from the latest Solarbuzz Quarterly report, confirmed IMS’ findings. According to that report, Germany accounted for 63% of global demand in fourth quarter and in Q4 the PV market reached a record high. That quarter represented 3.73 GW of the 7 GW and was more than seven times larger than in the first quarter of 2009. Italy and the Czech Republic with thier generous FITs also played a large part in the Q4 market.

Germany’s huge in Q4 performance could be an indication of strong global demand in the first-half of 2010 according to Solarbuzz, but it also increases pressure on the German government to change its plans for changing the Renewable Energy Act (EEG). Germany saw 4 GW of newly connected capacity in 2009, well ahead of the 2.5-3.5 GW per year path specified in the currently proposed amendment to the EEG.

“The current EEG policy amendment is based on a target market range that will be overshot by a large margin in 2010, so the Government may yet choose to cut back tariffs mid-year even more aggressively than currently planned.” said Craig Stevens, President of Solarbuzz, a part of The NPD Group. “Even without such revision, the PV industry will need to plan on a major re-balancing of global supply and demand in both mid-2010 and the start of 2011, worse than occurred from the policy adjustment in Spain in 2008.”

For the moment, early 2010 market strength is creating a period of relative pricing stability compared to the 2009 turmoil, Solarbuzz said. While the market fell 22% between first and fourth quarter 2009 after the decline of the Spanish market at the end of 2008, crystalline silicon module factory-gate prices are projected to show a slight upturn in Europe through most of second quarter 2010.

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