Global demand for solar photovoltaic energy will reach 20,400 MW in 2011

In 2010, this solar power market grew by 117% compared to an already excellent 2009. A further 25% increase is expected in 2011, when traditional markets will slightly drop.

Global demand for solar photovoltaic energy will reach 20,400 MW in 2011. This forecast was made by Solarbuzz, an international research and consulting firm that is specialized in solar energy and has recently published a detailed report on the performance of this market in the third quarter of 2010.

According to the quarterly report, solar PV demand increased by 107% in July, August and September 2010 over the same period of the previous year, reaching 4,000 MW. Overall though, in the first nine months of 2010 the market reached 10,600 MW. Regarding this finding, Solarbuzz estimated that the PV market reached 16,300 MW in 2010, with a 117% increase over the already excellent result achieved in 2009.

When analyzing individual nations, the report emphasized the growth of Asian markets. Indeed, among the leading twelve producers of photovoltaic modules, eight come from China and Taiwan. Moreover, China also consolidated its position as regards exports, since in the third quarter of 2010, 51% of all global shipments came from this country, compared with 47% in the same period of 2009.

According to the report, price drops in 2009 created the conditions for the exceptional growth that took place in 2010. Prices will continue to fall in 2011, but in order to register a significant growth next year it will be necessary to maintain the conditions for incentive fees in some key markets. In any event, even assuming a slight decline in Germany, in 2011 Solabuzz predicts an additional growth up to around 20,400 MW.

Aggregate PV manufacturers’ solar shipment growth is projected at 46% in 2011. This is in contrast to a slowing global market growth rate, which is forecast to be 25% in 2011, following incentive tariff cuts in the dominant German market and policy adjustments in the Czech Republic and France, in particular. Instead, 2011 market expansion will be driven by Italy, United States, China, Canada, India and smaller markets in Europe and Asia.

As a result of excess production, factory gate module prices are projected to drop by more than 15% over the year to fourth quarter 2011, led down by low cost Asian producers.

"Wholesalers in Germany will defer purchases in the early months of 2011 until they start to see improving price offers from module suppliers," said Craig Stevens, President of Solarbuzz. "However, more competitive pricing will emerge during second quarter that will be sufficient to re-stimulate that market during the second half of the year."

Weak first quarter 2011 demand in Germany will be the primary cause of module inventory build of over 3 GW in the PV chain. However, some leading manufacturers integrated into the downstream have established better positions by building up project pipelines in other European countries, the US and Asia. Many other manufacturers are dependent on upfront payments and penalty clauses to ensure wholesalers and project developers follow through on framework supply contracts as prices fall.