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Solar Photovoltaic Market Faces Global Market Shift
Jun 22, 2011
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Ongoing government policy adjustments are resulting in major shifts in the size, growth rates, and customer segment mix of photovoltaic (PV) markets in 2011, according to the conclusions of three new regional reports from Solarbuzz.

Most importantly are changes in European markets, led by Germany and Italy, which absorbed Feed-In Tariff (FIT) rate cuts of up to one-third between Jan. 1, 2010 and July 1, 2011. The reductions caused demand in Germany, the world’s largest PV market, to collapse in the first quarter to 2011 to less than half of its size in the first quarter of 2010. European demand for overall is expected to be flat for full-year 2011 – this after growth of 2009-2010 growth of 170%.

Residential and Commercial Solar PV Market Impact

The policy adjustments had the greatest impact on large ground-mount solar PV systems. The reports said that investment returns for residential and commercial roof-mounted PV systems were still attractive during the first half of 2011, but it wasn't until June that customers began responding to fast-falling prices.

The report said that:
• Europe is projected to represent 65% of world PV demand in 2011, down from 82% in 2010.
• U.S. demand will grow from 5% to 9% of the world market. U.S. demand is expected to grow to 14% of the global market in 2015.
• The five Asia Pacific markets, led by Japan and China, will growth their market share from 11% of global demand in 2010 to 16% in 2011. This share is expected to continue growing and reach 26% in 2015.

While the European market faces continued challenges, photovoltaic project pipelines in the United States, China, and India collectively now stand at 25 gigawatts (GW).

“Project development activity is intense in these countries,” said Craig Stevens, president of Solarbuzz. “Successful delivery of these pipelines will first require a host of incentive mechanisms. Regulatory, financing, project structure, and permitting issues must be overcome.”

Japan: Residential Demand Makes It Asia's Biggest Market

Residential solar system demand drove 111% year-on-year growth in Japan, making it the largest market in the Asia Pacific region. Residential PV accounted for 82% of the demand in Japan.

Japan had a strong policy support for solar even before the nuclear disaster and the current movement to replace nuclear with sustainable power sources. The report projected the market in Japan will grow to between 1.3-1.5 GW in 2011.

The region's second-largest market is China, where demand in 2010 more than doubled.

Chinese Increases Market Share In United States

In the United States, the report said, the industry end-markets, product mix, and channels to market are being redefined by higher utility demand. The market share of Chinese module manufacturers increased to 37% in 2010, led by Suntech Power, Trina Solar, and Yingli Solar, and China's share continued to build in the first quarter of 2011.

The market in the United States is forecast in the report to reach about 2 GW in 2011 and to grow to as much as 6.4 GW by 2015.

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