Spiraling energy consumption worldwide is driving demand for increased energy production. With non-renewable sources, such as oil and coal depleting rapidly and with concerns of global warming rising, the search for newer alternative sources of energy is gathering momentum. Poised to benefit against this background are solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, fuel cells, and biomass energies. The global energy sector is now banking on the active commercialization of these sources of energy for their benefits and ability to preserve nature in its true grandeur. Business opportunities in the solar cells market is especially guided by solar energy’s wide range of benefits such as the ability to provide accessibility to remote areas without the need for large-scale installations, and easy supply due to its requirement based installations model. Sunlight is the most abundant, inexhaustible and free form of energy. With sunlight reaching earth more than few thousand times greater than the total amount of energy used by mankind, efforts to conveniently and efficiently convert this source of energy into electricity continue to remain intense across the globe.
An essential part of solar energy value chain, solar cells and modules have always mirrored the trends in the overall solar energy sector, particularly status of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations. Following several years of perpetual increase, growth in the PV Cells and Modules market slowed down for a brief period in 2009 on account of the global economic downturn and paralyzed credit markets. The credit squeeze not only affected the purchases of solar cells and modules for energy generation but also deferred investments in solar cell manufacturing. Sluggish demand resulted in a significant inventory build-up starting from raw material silicon and PV cells to the complete PV systems, which ultimately led to considerable decline in prices of solar cells and modules.
The decline in demand for solar cells and modules was even more pronounced in Europe, as the market suffered a twin blow with Spain registering drastic reductions in PV installations during the year. The recession’s exacerbating impact on the Spanish government’s widening fiscal deficit resulted in the infamous decision to curb and reduce subsidies for solar power and cap new installations in the nation to 500 MW per year. The legislation was additionally designed to prune down subsidies for existing solar projects through feed-in tariff (FIT) cuts. The legislation limits the number of hours of output during which subsidies can be earned, and given the fact that 90% of existing Spanish PV installations were beneficiaries of the Feed-in Tariffs program, bankruptcies of photovoltaic plant operators are poised to spiral. The massive subsidies doled out to solar utilities was the prime reason for rapid expansion of solar power in the country over the last few years and by the year 2010, the country’s installed power of solar energy was over 10 times more than the planned capacity additions/expansions, thus exerting intense liability pressure on the government for subsidy payback. The ‘budget crisis’ induced slashing of solar subsidies therefore played an instrumental role in bringing down growth in Europe as a whole.
Amidst a mixture of challenges and opportunities dished out by policy changes, government funding announcements, solar PV installations improved across the globe in the year 2010 on the wings of recovering solar power generation. In Europe, Germany especially helped push up growth with the German government revoking earlier voiced plans to instate subsidy cuts. Besides Germany, large-scale solar PV installations were also reported from Italy, France, Czech Republic, and other key non-European markets such as Japan, US, and China, which helped re-establish demand for solar cells and modules across the globe. In the upcoming years, continued decline in prices of solar systems will add vigor to a steadily recovering market. Tumbling prices of solar panels will help speed up installation of rooftop solar systems. Government incentives for solar energy production, including subsidies, grants, and liberal feed-in-tariffs will remain critical for future market growth.
As stated by the new market research report on Solar Cells and Modules, Europe represents the largest regional market worldwide. Friendly feed-in-tariff policies for solar energy in Germany, Italy and France and subsequent rise in PV installations in these nations have been the primary growth factors in the region. Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing regional market, with revenues from the region waxing at a CAGR of about 27% over the analysis period. Growth in this region over the next few years will be primarily driven by robust industrial subsidy policies in most of the Asian countries, especially China.
Major players in the marketplace include BP Solar, Bosch Solar Energy AG, Canadian Solar Inc., EniPower S.p.A., First Solar, Inc., GE Energy, Gintech Energy Corp., Global Solar Energy, Inc., Hanwha SolarOne Co., Ltd., Isofotón SA, JA Solar Holdings Co., Ltd., Kaneka Corp., Kyocera Corp., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, Photowatt International S.A.S, Q-Cells SE, SCHOTT Solar GmBH, Sharp Corporation, SolarWorld AG, Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd., SunPower Corp., Trina Solar Ltd., United Solar Ovonic LLC, Motech Industries, Inc., Suntech Power Co. Ltd., Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Limited, CEEG (Shanghai) Solar Science & Technology Co., Ltd., among others.
The research report titled “Solar Cells and Modules: A Global Strategic Business Report” announced by Global Industry Analysts Inc., provides a comprehensive review of market trends, issues and growth drivers. The report provides market estimates and projections in US$ million across all major geographic markets including US, Canada, Japan, Europe (France, Germany, Italy, UK, Spain, Russia, and Rest of Europe), Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and Latin America.