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PV demand exceeded many analysts' expectations last year but could also cause slower-than-expected growth over the next few years, should figures released from market research firm Solarbuzz prove accurate. Solarbuzz said that global PV market installations reached a new record of 18.2GW in 2010, a massive 139% increase over 2009. The PV industry generated US$82 billion in global revenues in 2010, up 105% year-on-year, from US$40 billion in 2009.
“The industry has now entered a phase of tightening incentive terms across important European markets. Cuts in unit tariffs will be far more rapid than the industry’s pace of cost reduction,” commented Craig Stevens, president of Solarbuzz. “While some key markets will decline in size as a result over the next two years, the US, Canada, China, and Japan are some of the major countries that still offer growth potential. In addition, the rush to beat mid-year tariff reductions will ensure strong first half 2011 demand performance in Italy and Germany.”
There were five major markets in 2010, according to Solarbuzz, which included Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Japan, and the United States, which combined accounted for 80% of global demand.
European countries represented 14.7GW, or 81% of world demand in 2010. The top three countries in Europe were Germany, Italy, and the Czech Republic, which collectively totalled 12.9 GW.
Emerging markets included Japan and U.S, which grew by 101% and 96%, respectively. According to Solarbuzz, over 100 countries installed PV to a greater or less extent last year.
However, by 2015, Solarbuzz projects the European market share to fall to between 45% and 54%, as North America and several Asian markets grow rapidly. The U.S. is projected to become the fastest growing market.
Siolarbuzz is also projecting that factory gate module prices will drop between 37% and 50% from 2010 levels by 2015.
“Planned manufacturing capacity expansions will ensure the industry has adequate cell supplies over 2011 and 2012. However, the potential for excess supply taken together with already planned subsidy cuts will make both years challenging for the industry,” added Stevens.
Solarbuzz noted that an excess of production over market demand caused crystalline silicon factory gate module prices to drop 14% in 2010, significantly less than the 38% reduction of the previous year.