Solar PV Module Revenues to Rebound to $32 Billion by 2017

Solar photovoltaic (PV) industry module revenues are forecast to decline 20 percent in 2013 to $20.5 billion from $25.5 billion in 2012. While revenues will remain below 2012 levels during 2013 and 2014, they are set to increase from 2015 onward. According to the NPD Solarbuzz Marketbuzz 2013 report, PV module revenue is expected to reach $32 billion by 2017.

Confidence in the solar PV industry was severely damaged in 2012, as module average selling prices (ASPs) declined approximately 50 percent Y/Y, while end-market demand grew only 5 percent. This mismatch placed extreme pressure on the solar PV manufacturing sector, which had expanded its capacity during 2010 and 2011 to potentially supply 45 GW to an end-market that reached only 29 GW in 2012.

Essentially, manufacturing over-capacity and declining revenues had a dramatic impact on the PV industry in 2012, and this trend will continue during 2013. Share values of several publicly listed PV companies have been falling close to delisting levels, operating losses have been reported in the hundreds of millions of dollars per quarter, and many manufacturers are continuing to file for insolvency. Predicting how and when the solar PV industry will rebound to profitability has now become essential for all industry participants.

Figure 1: Solar PV Module Supplier Revenues Forecast to 2017

Source: NPD Solarbuzz Marketbuzz 2013

NPD Solarbuzz predicts further consolidation in the solar PV manufacturing sector through 2014, providing opportunities for market share gains. Module ASPs will continue to decline at a slower rate than in the last two years, which will provide an opportunity for leading module suppliers to implement cost reduction steps and create a profitable environment when the end-market demand approaches 46 GW in 2015.

Surviving the downturn phase of 2013 and 2014 remains the key objective for all solar PV manufacturers. Module suppliers with profitable business models will emerge as market leaders. In 2015, they can expect an industry that offers strong growth and revenue potential, which should restore confidence in the PV manufacturing sector and lead to further investments in new capacity and next-generation technologies.

This article was originally published on Solarbuzz and was republished with permission.

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Michael Barker monitors the status of the global PV industry supply/demand balance and watches related emerging trends. His responsibilities include the Solarbuzz Quarterly and Marketbuzz reports. Barker is also a regular contributor to leading PV industry publications and participates frequently in major PV conferences as a keynote speaker or session moderator. Before joining Solarbuzz, Barker led a team in writing and presenting business plans for SolNano, a company focused on bringing proprietary nano-scale solar PV technology to market. During that time, Barker also lectured at the University of Idaho College of Business and Economics, and conducted innovative research covering waste-to-energy systems in Guatemala for the Martin Institute at the University of Idaho. Barker has a BS in Business Economics and a minor in International Business from the University of Idaho.

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