In the recently published eighth ‘Annual Photovoltaics Status Report’ the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has reported a ‘massive’ increase in photovoltaics production capacity is underway and that worldwide production capacity for solar cells would exceed 38GW by the end of 2010. The report also notes that production volumes in 2008 increased by 80% as compared to 2007, reaching 7.3GW of potential output with China, Taiwan and Europe all adding significant capacity.
The key problem is that market demand will be significantly below production capacity levels. The report noted that market forecasts for 2010 vary considerably ranging from 6.8GW (Navigant conservative scenario), 7 to 10GW (EPIA policy driven scenario, EuPD, Bank Sarasin, LBBW) and on the high-side 17GW (Photon Consulting).
‘The consequence would be a quite low utilisation rate and consequently an accelerated shift from the demand-driven markets of the last years to an oversupplied market which will increase the pressure on the margins. Such a development will accelerate the consolidation of the photovoltaics industry and spur more mergers and acquisitions,’ the report noted.
The report also noted that Europe's solar cell production rose from 1.1GW to 1.9GW in 2008. China increased solar cell manufacturing output to 2.4GW in 2008, while Japan had 1.2GW and Taiwan with 0.8GW.