According to NPD Solarbuzz, global PV demand in the first quarter of 2014 set a new record high, the fifth year in a row that a quarterly record was set in the first quarter.

The market research firm said that demand in the quarter increased by 35% to over 9GW, compared to the previous first-quarter record set in 2013. End-market demand was said to have been driven by Japan and the UK, which combined accounted for more than one-third of demand as well as setting new quarterly records for PV deployed.

“The record demand added by the PV industry is the fifth straight year that a quarterly record has been set at the start of the year,” said Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “While demand during the first quarter typically sets the low point for the year, deployment levels during this quarter provide an excellent means of benchmarking demand for the rest of the coming year.”

As a result, the research firm said that the trailing 12-month demand indicates that the PV market is almost at the 40GW level and poised to go beyond the 50GW level in the next 12 months.

“Purely on a pro-rata basis, the first quarter of 2014 provides strong confidence that 2014 solar PV demand will indeed reach, and possibly even surpass, NPD Solarbuzz’s 2014 full-year forecast of 49GW,” Barker noted.

“During the past few years, the solar PV industry has been waiting for end-market demand to catch up with the excess manufacturing capacity added between 2010 and 2012,” added Finlay Colville, vice-president of NPD Solarbuzz. “This wait is now coming to an end. As annual demand approaches the 50GW level, suppliers will finally be able to shift their focus from short-term tactical survival to long-term strategic planning.”