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Third Quarter Solar Photovoltaic Installations Reach Record High of 9 Gigawatts

During the third quarter of 2013 (Q3’13), end-market demand from the global solar photovoltaic (PV) industry reached a new Q3 record of 9 GW. This record demand represents an increase of 6% compared to last quarter (Q2’13) and is almost 20% more than the same quarter last year (Q3’12), according to findings in the latest NPD Solarbuzz Quarterly report.

So far this year, both mid-year quarters, Q2’13 and Q3’13, have achieved record solar PV demand levels, resulting in more than 17 GW of new solar PV installations. This mid-year surge in new installations is almost 3 GW more than the solar PV industry has ever achieved in the past.

“The record levels of mid-year demand in 2013 have been critical to the overall recovery of the solar PV sector,” added Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “Restored confidence in end-market growth is allowing leading solar PV manufacturers to pursue aggressive shipment strategies within both established and emerging territories, despite previous concerns that trade wars could dampen growth.”

During Q3’13, there were continued signs of stabilized pricing, with module average selling prices (ASPs) decreasing by less than 1% compared to Q2’13 averages. A 12% price decline was seen last year between Q2’12 and Q3’12. Combined with strong industry demand this year, end-market revenues have increased for three consecutive quarters and exceeded $13 billion during Q3’13.

End-market solar PV system revenues are forecast to reach $21 billion in Q4’13, with full-year 2013 revenues expected to be in the range $65-75 billion. This compares to $68 billion in 2012 and $92 billion in 2011 when module and system prices were 20-50% higher than today.

During Q4’13, solar PV demand is forecast to grow to 10-12 GW, with the characteristic year-end surge coming from China and the U.S., accounting for 50% of global demand during the quarter.

Strong end-market demand is set to continue during Q1’14, historically the weakest quarter for the industry. This demand is being driven by leading solar PV countries whose scheduled incentive rate reductions align with end-March fiscal years. As a result, during Q1’14, record quarterly solar PV installations are forecast in both Japan and the UK, as project developers rush to complete large-scale projects before April 2014 policy adjustments.

By analyzing the latest end-market PV forecasts for the top-100 solar PV countries, NPD Solarbuzz now estimates that global PV demand for 2014 will be in the range 45-55 GW. The Asia Pacific (APAC) region is forecast to account for over 50% of the 2014 demand, with emerging regions increasing their global share to 10%. Similar to the second half of 2013, 2014 is also set to be dominated by two countries in particular, China and Japan, which are forecast to account for 40-45% of annual demand.