Polysilicon, wafers and solar module prices all declined severely in 2009, according to a new report from iSuppli. On average, crystalline module prices dropped 37.8%, solar wafer prices fell by 50%, and polysilicon prices declined by 80%. The market research firm expects further price declines in 2010, though not at the steep levels seen last year. In 2010, iSuppli is forecasting price declines for crystalline modules of 20%, solar wafers to decline by 18.2%, and polysilicon prices falling by a further 56.3%. Falling prices is now set in stone for the PV industry, which will benefit from becoming increasing competitive with other renewable energy forms, according to iSuppli.
“The erosion in pricing is bound to change the face of the solar industry,” noted Henning Wicht, senior director and principal analyst for photovoltaic systems at iSuppli. “The freefall of PV prices represents a permanent ratcheting down of price structures that will transform the industry into a more competitive marketplace.”
The market research firm expects PV installations to grow 64% in 2010, reaching 8.3GW installed for the year, despite an expected impact on installations in Germany in the second half of the year. Growth markets were identified as the United States, Italy, and China, which will account for approximately 50% of the worldwide market in 2010.
“Global installed watts for PV systems will grow by 64% in 2010, reaching 8.3GW,” said Wicht. “This will bring a return to the growth levels seen before the fall of 2008 as the worldwide recession recedes and as new geographies and segments of demand emerge.”
iSuppli expects PV manufacturers to continue to focus on cost reductions in order to keep up with the price declines and to repair compressed profit margins experienced in 2009. When the cost-down programs eventually catch up with the rate of price declines, an overall improvement in the profit picture can be expected, Wicht said.
PV profits will therefore continue to improve in 2010, as seen with fourth-quarter financial results from the majority of the major players in the industry.
iSuppli also is projecting that prices on average will actually increase by more than 10% in the final quarter of 2010, despite declines for the entire year.