REVISED: PV module market to contract by 15% in worst growth year since ’94, says Greentech Media

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Research firm Greentech Media, Inc. has teamed up with the Prometheus Institute for Sustainable Development to publish an analysis of the factors affecting regional and global demand for PV technologies. The study makes the claim that 2009 will see the weakest growth year since 1994, and that the industry will be dominated by Asian multicrystalline and CIGS, with solid share for CdTe and super monocrystalline technologies, by 2012.

Using a newly formulated integrated supply-demand model, the report, ‘2009 Global PV Demand Analysis and Forecast: Anatomy of a Shakeout II’ (which is the companion to the groups’ ‘PV Technology, Production, and Cost, 2009 Forecast: Anatomy of a Shakeout’ report), also forecasts a contraction of the PV module market by 15%–to US$12 billion this year– on 5GW of global demand.

The authors point out that “with global demand growth roughly flat from 2008 to 2009 and a doubling of feedstock and module production capacity over that period, the world has almost instantly shifted to a demand-constrained market. The analysis of a buyer’s market must use a buyer’s metric.

“Today, what sets the price in the global PV market is no longer the maximum price to allow project to proceed, but the minimum price that can be paid that will maximize the project IRR for the customer. In an oversupplied market, finance-constrained project developers will look to buy modules based on maximizing their internal rates of return.”

Some key findings of the study are:

  •  A predicted fall in module ASPs to below US$2.50 per watt in 2009 will be followed by a further decrease in 2010 to US$2.00 per watt as demand-side financing pressures force manufacturers to cut prices.
  •  Global module capacity will grow to 27.5GW by 2012, which will be enough to produce 23GW of PV modules; thin-film will account for 34% of that total. Market share for thin-film modules, in terms of incremental demand, will increase from 28% in 2008 to 50% by 2012.
  •  The cost of c-Si modules is expected to decrease by around 50% to US$1.40 per Watt by 2015, while the cost of CIGS modules will fall to US$0.75 per Watt over the same period.
  •  High-efficiency monocrystalline and low-cost thin-film technologies will see a 30% cost advantage over traditional multicrystalline producers as a result of efficiency adjustments.

“2009 will represent an inflection point in solar,” said Travis Bradford, President of the Prometheus Institute. “Strategic decisions can’t be made without considering the market impact of every technology with data that holds up in any economic climate. Now, more than ever, is when companies, investors and analysts need rock-solid intelligence to benchmark competitiveness and profitability. This report lets industry stakeholders know exactly how well they can compete in a demand-constrained environment.”

Drawing on almost 30 years of PV market analysis experience, the report is constructed using quantitative analyses of elements such as project economics, profit margins, module pricing and market share. The data is presented using global PV supply-and-demand curves, tables, charts and graphs and provides both near-term prospects and long-term potential for every region, market segment, company and technology in the PV industry.

Further information on the report is available here.

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