2010 Global Photovoltaic Demand

Despite this impressive rate of growth, the past two years have witnessed a fundamental and difficult market shift for manufacturers.

Previously, burgeoning European feed-in tariff markets enabled global demand to exceed available supply, driving up feedstock prices and attracting new entrants across the value chain.

But the combination of an ensuing rapid capacity build-out and the financial crisis of 2008 and early 2009 shifted market power downstream into the hands of project developers and financiers. Today, global manufacturing capacity greatly exceeds global demand.

With an estimated total of 16.1 GW of module manufacturing capacity online by the end of 2010, the global PV market is no longer constrained by supply.

In addition, 2010 will mark the beginning of a global PV market diffusion. Over the past few years, PV demand has been characterized by a series of gold rushes in which the majority of production flows into a single uncapped feed-in tariff market (e.g., Spain in 2008, Germany in 2009).

But the gold rush is necessarily followed by the government reducing, and often capping, incentives in order to constrain market growth. This leads manufacturers and developers to seek the next gold rush, and new markets are suddenly flooded with additional inventory.

But as Germany’s star begins to fade in the second half of 2010, no individual market will emerge to soak up excess inventory in sufficient volume to become the singular focus of global demand. Instead, demand will become increasingly spread amongst a growing class of markets around the world.

Making strategic decisions in the new global market requires a deep understanding of emerging growth markets and the interplay among demand centers. This 246-page report represents our latest annual comprehensive analysis of global PV demand.

It examines the characteristics that led the global PV market to grow in 2009 despite the global financial crisis, and applies these lessons in order to forecast demand and market conditions through 2013.