The PV industry generated $43 billion in global revenues in 2009, while successfully raising over $13.5 billion in equity and debt, up 8% on the prior year. European countries accounted for 5.60 GW, or 77% of world demand in 2009. The top three countries in Europe were Germany, Italy and Czech Republic, which collectively accounted for 4.07 GW. All three countries experienced soaring demand, with Italy becoming the second largest market in the world.
In contrast, Spanish demand in 2009 collapsed to just 4% of its prior year level. Of total European demand, net solar cell imports accounted for 74% of the total.
The third largest market in the world was the United States, which grew 36% to 485 MW. Following closely behind was a rejuvenated Japan, which took fourth spot, growing 109%.
The analysis in the new Marketbuzz 2010 report references 112 countries across the world in 2009.
World solar cell production reached a consolidated figure of 9.34 GW in 2009, up from 6.85 GW a year earlier, with thin film production accounting for 18% of that total. China and Taiwanese production continued to build share and now account for 49% of global cell production.
The Top 7 polysilicon manufacturers had 114,500 tonnes per annum of capacity in 2009, up 92% on their 2008 level, while the Top 8 wafer manufacturers accounted for 32.9% of global wafer capacity in 2009.
The excess of solar cell production over market demand caused weighted crystalline silicon module price average for 2009 to crash 38% over the prior year level. This reduction in crystalline silicon prices also had the effect of eroding their percentage premium to thin film factory gate pricing.
Looking forward, the industry will return to high growth in 2010 and also over the next 5 years. Even in the slowest growth scenario, the global market will be 2.5 times its current size by 2014. Under the Production Led scenario, the fastest growing forecast, annual industry revenues approach $100 billion by 2014.
After providing a comprehensive look back at 2009 industry results, the new Marketbuzz™ 2010 report devotes one third of its content to 2010 – 2014 forecast outcomes, including a thorough preview of market developments, policies, prices and production requirements, which will be essential to help shape corporate strategies over this period. Manufacturing costs, gross margins and capital expenditure profiles are also addressed.
According to the latest edition of the Solarbuzz QUARTERLY report, Germany accounted for 63% of global demand in fourth quarter, taking into account the new program statistics released last week. Fourth quarter 2009 global PV market reached a record high. At 3.73 GW it was more than seven times larger than in the first quarter of 2009, following massive growth in European demand through the year. In addition to Germany, the end-market ramp in the final quarter was also strongly driven by Italy and the Czech Republic.
The sharp rise in German demand in 4Q 2009 not only sets the platform for strong first-half 2010 global demand, but it also exacerbates the pressure on the German government to respond. At approaching 4 GW of newly connected capacity in 2009, the German market is running well ahead of the 2.5-3.5 GW per annum path specified in the currently proposed amendment to the Renewable Energy Act (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. Having fallen 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.
Once German policy adjustments have been implemented, second half 2010 and early 2011 corporate outcomes will become dependent on the discipline of downstream companies to manage inventories and on the manufacturers to adjust production levels in line with shifts in the quarterly demand pattern.