SAN JOSE, Calif. -- 2009 was a bad year for solar. But in 2010, photovoltaic
demand is projected to double over last year, according to Solarbuzz Inc.
In fact, solar cell prices are expected to jump. And there appears to be
signs of shortages for solar inverters.
Research firm Solarbuzz (San Francisco) has raised its solar forecast to 15.2
gigawatts (GW) in 2010, which compares with its revised 7.5 GW figure in 2009.
Japan's Sharp took the lead in terms of solar cell share in Q1, followed in
order by Suntech Power and First Solar.
The last three quarters of 2010 are projected to generate 12.7 GW, driven by
strong growth across Europe, but also in the United States, Japan and China,
according to the firm.
German market demand will remain volatile during 2010. A 2010 market size of
8 GW in Germany is now in prospect, even taking account of a drop off in demand
in the third quarter, according to the firm.
“Despite much uncertainty over policy outcomes, a challenging economic
environment and inverter supply, the PV industry is once again demonstrating
that consumers respond to supportive government policies,” said Craig Stevens,
president of Solarbuzz, in a statement. “The growth in demand is a response to
major cuts in price levels afforded by lower manufacturing costs. As a result,
module and inverter supply is just barely keeping up with demand.”
Others are also bullish. ''We believe most companies are projecting solar
installation to grow to 10-to-13 GW this year,'' said Edwin Mok, an analyst with
Needham & Co. LLC, in a recent report.
''There was more divergence on the outlook for 2011, where expectations range
from flat year-over-year to another year of 40 percent growth,'' he said. ''We
remain concerned that solar demand in the first half of 2011 could moderate due
to demand pull-in in 2H '10, especially with the very strong growth projections
in 2010 for Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic. As a result, we stand by our
outlook for just 13 percent growth in 2011.''
The inverter market remains very tight, with lead-times extending from 5-to-6
months. And wafer, cell and polysilicon prices will all increase slightly in Q3
2010. ''Some companies reported that wafer prices should rise to above $0.85/W
in 3Q10, but we believe this is probably not sustainable throughout 2H '10,
especially with the depreciation of the Euro,'' Mok said.
''We heard cells are being quoted at $1.30-$1.35/W, up slightly from
$1.20-1.30/W in 1H10. Polysilicon spot prices are also creeping up to $55-60
range for high-quality products, while the low-end products are still selling in
the $50-55 range. Overall, given the strong demand and tight supply for cells
and wafers, we are not surprised with the slight increase in pricing,'' he said.