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2011 PV Market: Optimism Prevails

Despite challenges, leading PV companies remain optimistic about 2011.

InterPV magazine has asked leading global PV companies for their predictions about the PV market in 2011. Most respondents agreed that the PV market in 2011 is definitely more challenging than 2010 with the German market forecast to shrink considerably due largely to cuts in solar subsidies. However, the PV leaders remain optimistic about 2011 as better conditions are expected in other countries including Italy, the U.K., Greece, Israel, the U.S.A., China and India. In particular, the PV market in the U.S.A. is predicted to play a key role in the long-term development of the global PV market, growing steadily over the next few years, driven by state-level Renewable Portfolio Standards and the Federal Tax Incentive. The PV leaders also see a further increase in new PV installations around the world.

All the challenges the year 2011 will bring with it will certainly not make things easier, but leading PV companies believe 2011 will be another exciting and strong year for the global PV industry because they know what they are dealing with and how to be creative and innovative.


Reported by Jeanny Lim



Worldwide PV Market


iSuppli forecasts that worldwide solar installations will reach 19.3 Gigawatt (GW) in 2011, up from 15.8 GW at the end of 2010.

Ina von Spies, Director of Corporate Communications at Q-Cells, is expecting a further increase in new photovoltaic installations around the world in the years to follow. However, said von Spies, continuous reduction in feed-in tariffs for solar power in Germany as well as cuts in grants in other key sales countries will further increase cost pressure. “We expect the year 2011 to be definitely more challenging than 2010.” The market looks challenging on the one hand, but there is the brighter side we should look at. Despite planned feed-in tariff reductions in several key European markets, 2011 will be strong for solar PV in every region, according to Jerome Mazet, Senior Manager of Asia-Pacific Marketing & Global Branding at Trina Solar. The Czech Republic, observed Mazet, is really the only country that shows a sharp drop in demand, and this is expected to be offset by rapid growth in several emerging and scaling markets, such as the U.S.A., the U.K., Israel, China, and Australia. “Overall, we predict 2011 will be a strong year for bankable module suppliers, and we look forward to working with our partners around the world to help PV reach new heights in 2011,” said Mazet.

From the global perspective, in the past 5~10 years, the annual forecast has always been ‘over supply next year’  yet almost every year the global PV industry found its way to the ususal 20~30% growth (except for the year of global financial crisis), noted Jackie Lin, Marketing Manager of Gintech Energy Corporation. “Therefore, I think in 2011, there will be significant increase of total global supply volume, yet with dropping prices of modules and systems, the global demand shall be able to evolve to overcome the impact of oversupply,” predicted Lin.

Many PV leaders see important European markets following Germany are Italy, France, the U.K., Greece and Spain. Outside Europe, They see strong growth in the U.S.A., China and India.

Holly Wu, Director of Marketing for Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa at Suntech, expects 2011 to be another strong year for the global PV industry, with new growth led by the world’s two largest economies: China and the United States. “As we drive solar past grid parity, we foresee greater regional diversification and stable growth in countries with established solar industry value chains,” said Wu. Countries throughout the Asia Pacific region, with fast-growing economies, burgeoning electricity demands, and great sunlight, will increasingly turn to solar technology to achieve long-term energy security, added Wu.

However, the further development of the PV industry is mainly dependent on two challenges: if the manufacturers of components further reduce costs of their products and if governments still provide a reliable political framework with appropriate Feed-in Tariffs (FiT) and open markets without any caps, maintained Christian Hinsch, Director of Corporate Communications at juwi group. “If these two challenges can be solved, the PV industry will contribute--as it has done in the past--to climate protection, technological developments and regional value creation.”

We are acting in a growing market that will lead to grid parity even though we do not know yet when this will exactly happen since the solar market has always been a very volatile market and subsidy policies vary from country to country, said Andreas Wilsdorf, Member of the Management Board of Conergy AG. However, continued Wilsdorf, one thing is certain: We will get there in the coming years, probably first in Italy and California.







Despite slowing FiTs and unstable pricing, many experts view the global PV market is set to surge through 2011 and Germany, the world’s largest PV market, will continue to lead the way. Germany’s solar business grew at an extraordinary rate in the second quarter of 2010, causing installations to exceed expectations during the first half of the year.

In 2011, around 5-6 GW will be newly installed in Germany, predicted Stefan Suberlich, CEO of SOLON SE. “Due to the fact that Germany has the regular degression of the feed-in tariff of 13% by January 1th of 2011 and combined with the feed-in tariff cut that came into effect in July and October last year, we expect that the German market will slow down in 2011 compared with 2010,” said Suberlich. The high volumes of 2010 (new installations of around 7 GW expected by the end of 2010) are in part due to pull-forward effects, added Suberlich.

The BSW agreed on a roadmap that sees a long-term development of the German market, explained Lars Waldmann, Director of Public Relations at SCHOTT Solar AG. “In this paper, we see scenarios that lead to 3 GW lowest up to 6 GW high of newly installed PV plants every year. This assumes a totally installed PV capacity of over 70 GW in 2020. We think that the national grid needs to be strengthened to accept this ammount of PV electricity,” said Waldmann. In accordance to the BSW market prediction, SCHOTT Solar’s market expectations are at 4.5 to 5.5 GW in Germany.

The regulation in Germany, being still the biggest solar market worldwide, is a challenge to meet for the entire industry, noted Wilsdorf. “It will certainly not make things easier. The incredible solar boom with newly installed solar systems of up to 7 GW within 2010 will not continue in the same way in 2011 due to the very restrictive regulation and subsidy policy in German politics,” said Wilsdorf. He sees for 2011 and also for 2012 new installations of a total of 4 GW. “Only in 2013, the German market will continue to grow according to the expert forecasts, to 5 GW in a first step and then to roughly 5.5 GW in the following year,” forecast Wilsdorf.




The North American PV market is expected to continue its strong growth in 2011 among all market segments--residential, commercial and utility-scale, according to Dave Wojciechowski, Sales Director of SMA America.

A research report says the utility-scale PV market is set to soar in 2011 and projected to grow five times faster than the rest of the industry. In particular, utility-scale solar power is quickly emerging in North America. “In 2010, we saw several true utility-scale projects come online, such as the Wynadot Solar Facility in Ohio, Blue Wing in Texas and Sarnia in Ontario. We expect to see an increase in frequency and size of these large projects as utility companies become more aware of the benefits of PV. As coal plants are taken offline and replaced with renewable energy in an effort to meet renewable energy portfolio standards, solar figures to play a prominent role in the North American power generation industry,” said Wojciechowski.

Commercial building owners and operators have also become much more aware of solar power’s benefits, noted Wojciechowski. New technologies in this area, such as transformerless inverters, are expected to benefit this group and drive new growth, he added.

UL certification, along with more recent NEC code changes, continued Wojciechowski, has paved the way for broad adoption of transformerless inverters. “Paired with trackers, transformerless technology can also provide a decentralized option for multi-megawatt PV arrays,” he explained.

The residential market, which has long been the backbone of the PV industry, will continue to grow as well, observed Wojciechowski. “Innovative financing models and new state-based incentive programs have really helped homeowners with the high initial cost of a residential system and allowed them to capitalize on the long-term benefits.” Mazet sees the PV market in the U.S.A. playing a key role in the long-term development of the global PV market. “Avoiding the short boom-and-bust cycles precipitated by feed-in tariff schemes in certain European countries, the U.S.A will continue to grow steadily over the next few years, driven by state-level Renewable Portfolio Standards (mandating electrical utilities to source a percentage of their energy from renewables) and the Federal Tax Incentive.”

Other Markets: Ontario, Taiwan, Japan

The Ontario (Canada) market remains very important in spite of some regulatory uncertainty, said Wojciechowski. “Overall, we are optimistic about PV’s prospects in North America in the short and medium term.”

According to Lin, the total PV cells production in Taiwan will grow by at least 50%. There will be one or two major acquisitions/mergers among PV companies in Taiwan, added Lin.

The Japanese government has restarted subsidy programs for residential solar systems in 2009, and the market has been growing, observed Ichiro Ikeda, Marketing Manager of Solar Energy Group at Kyocera Corporation. “We still need to watch the movement of the government, but we expect gradual growth into 2011.”


Jeanny Lim is Editor-in-Chief of InterPV. Send your comments to swied@infothe.com.



For more information, please send your e-mails to pved@infothe.com.

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