Weak demand and falling PV module prices are expected in the first quarter of 2011, however the conditions will spur renewed demand in the sector, boosting installations to over 20GW, up from a forecasted 14.2GW installed in 2010, according to a new forecast from iSuppli Corp. Despite concerns over government subsidy reductions impacting demand such as in the largest market, Germany, iSuppli is projecting installs to reach 6.6GW in 2010 and rise to a new record high of 9.5GW in 2011.
“The strong results projected for 2011 come despite softening demand anticipated during the first quarter of next year,” said Stefan de Haan, senior analyst for photovoltaic materials and systems at iSuppli. “As a result, prices will weaken at the end of the first quarter. However, the feebleness of the pricing will be responsible for demand momentum building up in the second quarter. From then on, a significant demand rally can be expected, leading to a price rebound in the second half.”
Contrary to some other market forecasts, which suggest the German market could be flat with installation figures expected for 2010, iSuppli believes that the German government is not in a strong enough position make further cuts to the feed-in tariff, because of its support to extend the operational life of nuclear power plants in the country; despite popular opposition, the government is not likely to risk further alienating public opinion by implementing limits on solar energy, according to iSuppli.
“A severe action such as an installation cap on solar technology conceivably could cause a mutiny among regional German politicians who count PV companies as electoral constituencies, in the process drawing loud protestations from the industry, where precious jobs are at stake,” added de Haan. “And unlike in France—where an ad hoc action imposing PV caps succeeded—the solar industry in Germany has real influence on governmental decisions.”
But 2011 looks like being the peak demand year for PV in Germany. iSuppli is projecting a sharp decline in 2012 to 5GW, falling further to 4.5GW in 2014.
The impact on PV market growth from the steep installation drop-off in Germant in 2011 will result in almost zero growth in 2012, only to recover strongly in 2013 and on to 2014. iSuppli is projecting that other European countries combined will be the significant drivers of the next phase of growth, including expected growth from North America and other regions of the world.
The PV market is expected to reach over 37GW in 2014, up from 14.2GW in 2010.