The solar photovoltaic (PV) market’s 77% year-on-year explosion as developers rushed to complete installations before scheduled incentive reductions in 2011 foreshadowed a pessemistic 2012. A modest 15% year-on-year growth in 2012 from growth in China and the U.S. while Europe fades could be seen as the beginning of the end. If demand continues to slow and even slide from subsidy cuts in Europe, overcapacity will continue to erode margins, large manufacturers will fall, and solar could become a niche technology. However, installations and market conditions will improve, resulting in 11% CAGR through 2018. Record low prices from gross margins reaching near zero or below have made solar installations competitive in more markets. The U.S., China, Japan, and India will take over where Germany and Italy left off, driving global demand from 31 GW in 2012 to 62 GW in 2018. Low prices will also weed out uncompetitive manufacturers as consolidation reduces global capacity. Rising demand and falling capacity will bring the two within 12% of each other in 2015, easing price pressure, returning manufacturers to profitability, and returning the industry to equilibrium.
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