Although cuts in feed-in tariffs in major European markets have cast a cloud over PV installations this year, market research firm IMS Research expects key emerging markets to support growth of the industry in 2012. According to IMS, global installations will reach between 27.8GW and 32.6GW in 2012, compared to its latest figures for 2011 when installations were said to have reached 26.9GW.
The reason for the optimism rests on the continued regional expansion of PV outside Europe. According to IMS, at least 23 countries will install 100MW or more this year, up from just 17 last year as well as tracking installations being seen in around 60 countries.
“It is no longer a case of whether the PV market will grow in 2012, the real question now is by how much will it grow,” explained Ash Sharma, IMS Research's senior research director. “When you only consider a handful of countries like Germany, Italy and France, it’s easy be pessimistic about demand; however, when you look further afield and analyse demand from 60 countries, the picture becomes much more positive.”
Furthermore, PV installations in Germany are not expected to decline much from 2011 levels, IMS said. Falling system prices mean that PV remains an attractive investment in Germany with the market research firm forecasting that installations could reach from 6GW to as much as 8.5GW in 2012.
“Despite many in the industry still expecting further doom and gloom, we in fact see a pick-up in demand driven by falling system prices, a rush to beat incentive cuts, and the growing number of mid-sized emerging PV markets,” added Sharma.
Germany is expected to remain the largest market, but China is expected to be the second largest in 2012.
“China remains one of the most unpredictable factors in the global supply and demand balance. With European demand faltering, the Chinese government is under increased pressure to accelerate domestic deployment to support its huge manufacturing base. Installations of up to 8GW would be unlikely in China this year, but still a possibility,” concluded Sharma.