Market research firm IHS has struck a deal with rival US-based NPD Group to acquire its leading research arms in the flat panel display and solar PV sectors (NPD Solarbuzz) for an undisclosed sum.
IHS has been on an acquisition trail in the PV sector for several years, having initially acquired Wicht Consulting, via the acquisition of iSuppli and then IMS Research and Emerging Energy Research. Long-standing independent Solarbuzz was itself acquired by NPD Group in recent years.
“Solarbuzz will help IHS customers tap into the photovoltaic industry’s premier source for detailed strategic and tactical planning information,” said Scott Key, president and chief executive officer of IHS.
However, the deal raises some important issues surrounding third-party market research availability for the PV industry and the concentration of previously independent and well-respected authorities on the sector now merged into one research house.
Although a number of market research firms remain covering the PV industry, such as EnergyTrend in Taiwan and RTS in Japan, NPD Solarbuzz was one of the last research houses with international reach, rather than regional specialists such as those mentioned.
As recently pointed out by regular contributor to PV Tech, Finlay Colville, vice president at NPD Solarbuzz, the firm had changed its methodology on forecasting the PV industry to more accurately track global demand as research firms have consistently underestimated PV demand on an annual basis.
It is widely known that IHS has struggled to amalgamate previous PV research firms and methodologies into a coherent entity and the amalgamation of NPD Solarbuzz could be an even greater challenge.
This could be compounded by the fact that the PV industry continues to be highly dynamic and seen to be at a significant inflection point on a global basis, making it increasingly difficult to forecast accurately.