Quarterly analysis of PV manufacturing capacity expansion plans: 1H 2015


By Mark Osborne, Senior News Editor, Photovoltaics International

In this quarterly report we will provide full first-half 2015 analysis that shows a massive shift in the geographical location of planned production plants, as well as details on key capacity announcements in the months of May and June. The analysis of April’s capacity announcements were reported in the previous quarterly report. Despite April announcements being so low, May proved to be a blockbuster month. The return of meaningful solar cell capacity plans reiterates the strength in the recovery and the first attempts for many years by leading PV manufacturers to rebalance cell and module production as next- generation PERC technology leads the cell rebalancing act.

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Forecasting the evolution of a young, dynamic industry is by definition an uncertain business, and solar is no exception. Rarely, if ever, do the numbers broadcast by any of the various bodies involved in the PV prediction game tally, and even historical deployment rates remain the subject of hot debate. The paradox is that getting forecasts broadly right is going to become increasingly important over the next few years, particularly for those involved in producing the equipment that will support whatever levels of demand come to pass. As discussed by Gaëtan Masson, director of the Becquerel Institute, on p.110 of this issue of Photovoltaics International, although global PV demand appears in rude health, complex political and economic conditions in many individual markets mean the question of how vigorously it will continue to grow in the coming years is less than clear. Yet for the upstream part of the industry, correctly forecasting PV market developments will be critical to ensure the right investments are made along the value chain in technologies that will help spur PV to new levels of competitiveness and thus drive continued demand.

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