After a year of perpetual module price declines, the rush of installations in Germany before the statutory FiT cut meant prices actually increased 7% in December, 2011, according to the latest IMS Research monthly PV module price tracker report. However, the trend is expected to be short-lived. The IMS survey of PV distributors pointed to an expected decline of just 4%, but their customers expected prices to decline by more than double that amount during the month of January.

Sam Wilkinson, senior market analyst at IMS Research commented, “The increases in prices of PV modules throughout the supply chain in December perhaps shows that the pricing free-fall of 2011 had ended, which I’m sure provided a welcome relief to suppliers. However, our checks indicate that further drops are expected in early 2012”.

According to IMS Research, crystalline modules purchased direct from the manufacturer actually increased in price in December, the first time in the year, but by only a 1% increase.

Distributors were able to take advantage of strong demand in their local markets and their prices for crystalline PV modules were said to have increased by an average of 10%. Distributors were also said to have increased their mark-up on modules in December, on average selling crystalline modules for 22% more than their purchase price, almost double the previous month.

The data suggests that inventory clearing was partially successful as prices stabilized, noted the research firm.

“A strong pick-up in demand came late in the year in many countries, most notably Germany which installed over 4GW in Q4’11. This resulted in prices stabilizing and distributors improving their margins and clearing their inventories,” added Wilkinson.