Germany to lead photovoltaic market in 2011

Feed in tarriffs (FITs) are slowing and pricing is becoming more jumbled but despite this the global PV market is set to soar and soar throughout 2011 and Germany, currently top dog anyway, will continue to lead the way.

Global solar installations should reach 20.2 Gigawatts (GW) in 2011 according to soothsayers at iSuppli. By the end of 2010 installations should be at 14.2GW. Senior PV analyst at iSuppli Stefan de Haan has said: “The strong results projected for 2011 come despite softening demand anticipated during the first quarter of next year. As a result, prices will weaken at the end of the first quarter. However, the feebleness of the pricing will be responsible for demand momentum building up in the second quarter. From then on, a significant demand rally can be expected, leading to a price rebound in the second half.”

There has been talk in the European PV circuit that as Germany is a couple years ahead of the pack – particularly the UK which is just experiencing its massive growth years with heavy encouragement from the coalition gov – it may be posting a cap on installation during 2011.

iSuppli says that Merkel’s gang won’t “dare” trying to cut down on subsidies in the wake of the country’s bright idea to extend on the building of nuclear power plants. “The government is not likely to risk further alienating public opinion by implementing limits on photovoltaic solar energy,” it said.

It’s thought by the analyst outlet that the nuclear reprieve in Deutschland will not have a huge impact on the PV markets. It maintains that even if the decision to expand on nuclear sends “the wrong signal” to the global PV markets, the huge majority of support for solar forecasts a strong market transition into 2011.

On to some interesting product news from the residential PV sector: We chatted to Kamil Shah, director of corporate communications in Europe at Sanyo, which is rolling out a new module hybrid cell which merges monocrystalline and amorphis silicon – which promises to collect more precious, precious energy while saving on surface area. It’s the HIT series and it certainly won’t be subject to price drops, it’s expensive kit aimed squarely at the residential sector but we’re told it is more energy efficient to create while delivering more and having a longer life cycle.

It launched early at the beginning of September and is Sanyo’s most powerful conversion to date. The theoretical maximum for crystalline, Shah tells us, is 29 percent – while the conversion efficiency of the new HIT series boasts 21.1 percent, so it’s high up on the chart.

Sanyo is keen to capitalise on the UK market. Shah tells us FITs are being lowered around Europe because leaders such as Germany and Italy are already established and locked in. However the UK is enjoying a relative boom. At the moment we’re promised 40p back from every Kilowatt of electricity that goes back into the national grid – though this is going to head back down to 5 percent in 2012. For now, though, everyone who installs PV kit will get the 40 percent tarrif so it’s a significant return on investment to get onto the renewable energy bandwagon, quick, in Blighty.

Sanyo’s got the drop on hybrid cell technology for now, and Shah tells us it is “no secret” that competitors are trying to edge in. This could be good for the consumer and eventually for the planet, though – hybrids are less wasteful on the manufacturing side and keep ticking along for longer than your average.

Production of the polycrystalline standard is cooked at between 600 and 900 degrees, but only 200 degrees is necessary for the manufacturing of hybrid cells.

Manufacturing begs a lot of interesting questions, which rest assured, we plan to get to the bottom of in the coming weeks…