Thin-film manufacturer Hanergy this week announced its arrival in the UK with the acquisition of domestic solar provider Engensa. As the UK has little track record with thin-film PV, Finlay Coleville assesses what Hanergy’s motives are and how it will succeed.
Normally a sleeping aid for insomniacs, SEC filings can sometimes contain interesting insights into publicly traded companies. Tom Cheyney has dug a few out from Trina Solar’s latest filing.
Forecasts suggest the UK will be the fifth largest PV market globally during the first quarter of this year. Finlay Colville assesses how this once small player is beginning to punch above its weight.
European PV demand will be the key swing factor for final global PV demand during 2013. Sound familiar? Demand from established ‘Western’ PV territories (Europe and North America) may comprise as little as 49% of global demand, but as much as 57%. Whether we end up closer to the upper end of this range or the lower range will ultimately shape the outcome of the PV industry this year.
As though by chance, the UK PV industry chose the London 2012 Olympic Games year to mark its entrance on the global stage as a gigawatt-status PV end market. And by the time the FIFA Soccer World Cup gets underway in Rio in 2014, Brazil will have broken through the 100MW annual PV demand barrier.
For 2012, Europe retained its dominant position in global PV demand reaching 16.5GW, according to findings in the new NPD Solarbuzz Marketbuzz report.
The depressed state of the PV production equipment sector has been well chronicled. Few companies are adding or updating capacity, both on the crystalline silicon and thin-film PV fronts, and tool firms’ bookings (let alone billings) remain very light. Announcements of production orders are few and far between, so when a firm does score one, it should not go unnoticed/uncelebrated, no matter how modest.
First Solar is forecast to have been the largest midstream solar PV cell manufacturer in 2012, according to recent checks and preliminary estimates by NPD Solarbuzz of internal (in-house) cell/midstream PV production levels during the calendar year 2012.
To achieve wide-scale application without the need to rebuild existing infrastructure it is essential that systems are suitable for installation to allow easy integration with or retrofitting to buildings
According to the latest research findings from NPD Solarbuzz (based upon new channel checks and confirmations), Yingli Green Energy can be confirmed as the number 1 PV module supplier during 2012.
Cumulatively, the Top 10 PV markets accounted for 86% of global demand in 2012, down slightly when compared to the 89% share achieved in 2011, according to NPD Solarbuzz analysis within the forthcoming Marketbuzz report.
While the over-supply situation in the PV industry impacts the supply/demand balance across the PV value chain, the over-capacity situation has the greatest impact on those dependent on new CapEx spending. And here, it is the PV equipment supply-chain that is feeling the brunt of the over-capacity problem.
This blog explains which c-Si technologies are likely to be applied to manufacture c-Si cells used within shipped modules for new PV demand during 2013. It also provides an update to the persistent industry debate surrounding PV technology roadmaps, and discusses why the whole issue of road mapping is often taken out of context within the PV industry.
If 2009 to 2011 represented an extended three-year party for the PV industry, then 2012 will definitely be remembered as a long and painful hangover: a year in which forecasts and guidance were rarely achieved, and when being able to report ‘less amount of losses’ quarter on quarter was marketed as a success.
India has launched its own solar trade investigation, but any anti-dumping duties are unlikely to be implemented before August 2013, says Jasmeet Khurana.
While media coverage can often portray the PV industry as a sector currently getting its just-rewards for years of self-inflicted investment over-exuberance, it is easy to lose track of what made the PV industry so special in the first place: using advanced technology as a means to achieve global climate stability.
Recent earnings reports are confirming that module suppliers have now accepted that previous full-year 2012 shipment forecasts were too optimistic. This is revealed bycomparing the most recent shipment guidance withthe previous round of earnings reports (reporting for Q1’12), when all major manufacturers had full-year shipment growth estimates in the strong double-digit range, with some guiding up to 50% growth.
The main fuel used in Polish power plants is still coal. In fact, 91% of the energy used in Poland is conventional. The plans of the Polish government, resulting in, amongst others, from the European Union’s Directive 2009/28/EC requiring an increase of renewable energy generation to 15% by 2020, indicate that a lot of investment will need to be undertaken in the oncoming years.
Book-to-bill ratios are often overlooked as providing nothing other than an instantaneous snapshot of historic tool shipments and order intake levels. Within a healthy industry, whether these ratios are hovering above or below parity is generally considered as a leading indicator for equipment suppliers’ manufacturing pipelines and near-term revenue-recognition.
As the third quarter of 2012 comes to an end - and many of the leading module suppliers are in the midst of reporting second quarter results and attempting to offer guidance for full-year 2012 shipments - it is now becoming possible to form a picture of what the 2012 PV shipment rankings will look like by year-end.
When final numbers are counted for capital equipment suppliers to the PV industry for 2012, the data will reveal a somewhat misleading picture. And one that was certainly not on the radar of any PV equipment supplier just 12 months ago.
Company executives and analysts alike face a number of difficulties in answering this very important question. To reach the answer requires strong fundamentals in solar PV economics. This, however, is unfortunately not enough. The data necessary to answer the question are difficult to collect and even more difficult to structure and maintain. Further, the data are highly dynamic: US incentives change in structure, decrease or expire and electricity prices change in both magnitude and composition. All of these variables affect a market’s attractiveness, which itself can change substantially over time.
By 2016, the federal 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and the California Solar Initiative (CSI), the nation’s largest ratepayer funded program, will have expired. A key question lingering until then will be: “Can the US PV industry be weaned off government subsidies and therefore become self-sustaining?”
The successful deployment of renewable energy, including solar, is critical for America’s future energy supply. Recently, a lease financing mechanism has been one of the most powerful drivers of solar power deployment in the US. Though solar leases have helped grow the industry, the authors contend that they come at an inflated and higher than intended cost to the US taxpayer compared to cash purchases. Further, if these inflated taxpayer costs become politicized, the industry may suffer another setback.
The Battle of Balaclava in 1854 between the Russian and British-Turkish forces in the Crimean War was notorious for heavy British casualties caused by miscommunication between the commander-in-chief and the cavalry commanders, in which the brigade attempted a much more difficult objective than originally intended.
Installed PV system pricing, customer segmentation, application-type segmentation and overall market growth are beginning to show significant differences across major Asia Pacific (APAC) markets. This differentiation can often be linked directly to the dominance (or lack thereof) of major module manufacturers within the various APAC countries.
For leading c-Si manufacturers, three issues have been influencing $/W cost metrics during the past couple of years: blended silicon cost, non-silicon process cost, and cell efficiency/module power.
The following article comments on the ongoing discussion of the grid parity issue. Although considerable movement can be observed in how PV is thought of in the industry, this article aims to point out the consequences of the necessary transition from incentive to non-incentive markets.
To understand the potential impact of the preliminary US Department of Commerce ruling regarding import duties for c-Si modules that contain c-Si cells manufactured within China, it is necessary to clarify what the US market represents to leading tier 1 Chinese c-Si module suppliers (in absolute terms), as well as relative to the overall (global) market.
The industry has now had a chance to take stock of the US Department of Commerce’s announcement that it will impose an import tariff on PV cells, or PV modules that contain cells, manufactured in China. The preliminary findings of the anti-dumping case, which was initiated in October 2011 when a group of PV manufacturers, led by Germany’s SolarWorld, filed a trade complaint, revealed that a tariff of approximately 31% would be levied against a specified group of the largest Chinese cell manufacturers and a rate of 249% against all other Chinese manufacturers. This was in addition to March’s introduction of less severe countervailing duties to negate the allegedly unfair subsidies that Chinese suppliers benefit from.
This article provides an analysis of global installations/demand and global production/supply according to regions and technologies. The evaluated timeframe includes years 2010 and 2011. An outlook for 2012 is also provided on a best-estimate basis. Specifically, the implications of module shipments in 2011 and 2012(e) are presented. This is in line with an analysis of production capacities, their utilization rates and the corresponding impact on global profit margins.
“How much capacity is really in the PV industry today?” This question has probably been asked more often than any other question in the past six months. The question is not founded simply upon curiosity. Capacity levels are implicitly linked to supply and inventory levels, module ASPs, planned fab utilization rates and long-term expansion/CapEx plans.
In 1854, Matthew C. Perry - the Commander of the US Navy - compelled Japan to openup to its economy to foreign trade, after more than 200 years of a self-imposed isolation policy enforced by the ruling Tokugawa Shogun. The Commander arrived in Japan with four black-coloured US Navy warships, billowing black smoke. Later the term ‘Black Ships’ would be coined in Japan to symbolize any threat imposed by Western technology.
With flat (potentially flat-to-negative) PV demand being factored into manufacturers’ 2012 guidance and strategy, the prospects for the PV equipment supply-chain remain particularly bleak in the short-term.
How much carbon is emitted in producing a solar PV module and launching it on the market? This could be an important question which project developers, installers, investors, government agencies and end customers will ask solar PV manufacturers in the future.
With 95% of module shipments in 2011 accounted for by a manufacturing group that is comprised of technologies specific to the c-Si community and thin film manufacturer, First Solar, for those seeking a disruptive alternative to compete with this dominance there are few options that command as much attention as CIGS.
In spite of the devastating disasters which struck Japan in March 2011, the PV market continued growing and exceeded the 1-GW mark in 2011. The market growth – 30% - was far less than in 2009 and 2010, when it exceeded 100%. China was twice as big as Japan in 2011, with the national Feed-in tariff (FIT) policy and ample of module supplies. This year, Japan embarking on a road to higher growth, by finally implementing a true FIT like other leading PV counties, and by diversifying its market beyond the residential segment.
PV is a global market, but there are currently no global certification standards. As the module market space continues to expand in size and numbers of manufacturers, global regulatory groups are challenged to write and enforce global material and module standards. Currently material and module manufacturers are forced to certify, and develop, according to multiple regional requirements. For the material developer, regulatory approval on both materials and modules takes upwards of a year. As it cannot be conducted contiguous to other development steps, this is a ‘direct add-on’ to the time lag between innovation investment and the profit return.
The PV inverter industry did a good job limiting production and clearing excessive inventory levels in 2011. After over shipping about 3GW in 2010 to the global market place the inverter industry was able to meet 2011 installation demand via consumption of these excess plus new shipments. 2011 shipments were based on better demand-matched production rates then the year before when production constraints helped stimulate over ordering and over production later in the year.
Increasing panel efficiencies and power ratings represents a key deliverable from the PV industry today. These requirements are not simply long-term objectives for the industry as a whole: they are essential at the company level to differentiate leading suppliers within an overcrowded and highly competitive manufacturing environment.
Efficiency enhancements typically require changes in manufacturing process flow and materials (raw and consumable) used in production. Ideally, the technologies that drive these changes will be those featured within a technology roadmap.
SINGAPORE (ICIS)—Polysilicon spot prices in Asia are likely to be depressed for the first half of next year because tougher financing in debt-stricken Europe will dampen solar investments and the unfolding solar trade row between the US and China may affect the market, traders said.
PV-Tech recently announced that its most read blog post of 2011 was an article from IMS Research entitled ‘PV module costs and prices – what is really happening?’, written almost 18 months ago in August 2010. The popularity of this post clearly says something about what the PV industry was talking about throughout all of last year, and still will be talking about in 2012. Looking back now at the article I thought it would be interesting to revisit some of the predictions made versus what happened in reality, as well as considering what the future holds 12 months on.
Not withstanding the tumultuous year for solar cell and thin-film manufacturers, the top-10 rankings for 2011 saw only a few changes in position from 12 months ago. Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers maintained their prominence, securing 8 of the top-10 positions. But the number-one position in 2011 goes to First Solar, the only thin-film manufacturer on the list.
The simple answer is yes. Certainly enough modules and inverters were sold, and if installations really did hit 7.5GW in Germany then this would undoubtedly mean that at least 26GW was installed globally last year, with Germany retaining its position as the largest market, followed closely by Italy. We’re still finalising our data for 2011, but we now estimate up to 26.5GW could have been installed last year following the phenomenal year-end rally in Germany. This would have meant an incredible 10 GW was installed in the last quarter of the year – the first time this has ever happened and more than the whole amount installed in all of 2009!
The US International Trade Commission voted unanimously on Friday in a preliminary ruling on the antidumping petition filed by SolarWorld and five other companies calling for countervailing duties against Chinese solar companies. It’s officially ‘game on’ now as the US ITC will now proceed with a full investigation. But is it ‘game over’ for SolarWorld and those companies failing to lower their prices, open new solar electric markets, and compete to win?
According the Federal Network Agency, only 3.35 GWp of PV systems were installed in Germany in the first 9 months of 2011. In comparison to last year, this represents a market volume decrease of 40%. In 2010, 5.53 GWp were installed in September alone. Market experts currently estimate that the total additional installations in 2011 will amount to 5.5 GWp. This would mean that the German market would be in a state of regression for the first time, at 25% below the installation rate of the previous year.
While delivering GW-levels of manufacturing equipment during 2H’11 that is already surplus to market requirements is bad enough, excessive tool backlogs pose yet another worry that needs to be factored into revenue guidance for 2012.
Non-linear systems are often difficult to understand. The famous “penny game” is a good example. In this game, a hypothetical person is given one penny (or one euro cent) on the first day, two pennies on the second day, four pennies on the third day, etc., and then asked to guess the total value of the pennies at the end of one month. Very few people guess correctly – US$21 million – or appreciate that 75% of that value is created on the last two days.
Forecasting new order intake from PV capacity expansions and technology inflection points remains a challenge for the PV equipment supply-chain. As many of the leading, public-listed, tool suppliers prepare to report results for Q3 2011, the focus will be firmly on guidance for 2012 and the revenues that may emerge for new products recently launched.
Forecasting thin-film investments and capacity expansions has never been an exact science. However, with the exception today of First Solar, there are few market-based arguments to support the immediate capacity expansion of most thin-film fabs presently struggling to match the downward crystalline silicon cost and price curve.