The PV module business is set to rebound in 2015 with leading companies returning to profitability on the back of slowing ASP declines, higher global installations and further company consolidation, according to the NPD Solarbuzz.

However, its 2013 Marketbuzz report also forecasts that PV module revenue in 2013 will decline 20% to US$20.5 billion, down from US$25.5 billion in 2012 due to only a small increase in global installations this year and falling ASPs.

While revenues will remain below 2012 levels during 2013 and 2014, they are set to increase from 2015 onward, reaching US$32 billion by 2017, generating a profitable environment, according to the market research firm. 

Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz said: “Manufacturing over-capacity and declining revenues had a dramatic impact on the PV industry in 2012, and this trend will continue during 2013. Share values of several publicly listed PV companies have been falling close to delisting levels, operating losses have been reported in the hundreds of millions of dollars per quarter, and many manufacturers are continuing to file for insolvency. Predicting how and when the solar PV industry will rebound to profitability has now become essential for all industry participants.”

Severe overcapacity led directly to PV module ASPs declining approximately 50%, year-on-year while end-market demand grew only 5%.

NPD Solarbuzz said that module capacity between 2010 and 2011 reached at least 45GW but was supplying to an end market that only reached 29GW in 2012.

Not surprisingly, NPD Solarbuzz is predicting further consolidation through 2014, which should provide market share gains for the leading companies. Module ASPs, however, are set to continue to decline but at slower rates, providing an opportunity for leading module suppliers to continue to implement cost reduction steps and return to profitability when the end-market demand approaches 46GW in 2015.

“Surviving the downturn phase of 2013 and 2014 remains the key objective for all solar PV manufacturers,” Barker noted. “Module suppliers with profitable business models will emerge as market leaders. In 2015, they can expect an industry that offers strong growth and revenue potential, which should restore confidence in the PV manufacturing sector and lead to further investments in new capacity and next-generation technologies.”