PV industry turns to profits not growth for 2012

Trends are changing in the solar industry, and in 2012 the market is going to swing away from an emphasis on bolstering market share towards profitability instead.

According to figures from NPD Solarbuzz, global demand is on course for six percent growth in 2012. There will be market declines in Europe but those will be offset by 43 percent growth elsewhere. Because of that, industry players will need to work on building their margins as demand shifts and prices decline.

2011 saw a spate of overproduction, excess inventories and dwindling market prices which caused losses across the board. Companies will have to pull up their socks to recover financially. Manufacturers have already cut 4.9 GW from the original 28.2 GW goal for module shipments over 2011.

Both China and the UK both boost PV uptake, bringing the global market forecast to 23.6 GW in 2011 – an increase of 22 percent year on year. The boom is perfect timing for China as US manufacturers are worried since SolarWorld filed anti-dumping charges with the US Deperatment of Commerce and the International Trade Commission, according to SolarBuzz.

Still, Chinese, Western and Japanese cell and module manufacturers all saw decreased percentage points and negative margins in the second half of 2011. The looming 15 percent feed in tariff cuts in Germany at the start of next year means module prices will continue to fall. 

If the solar industry players don’t get their houses in order, warns NPD Solarbuzz president Craig Stevens, they risk being left in the cold and unable to make the most of strong growth in grid parity that’s being established in the major strategic markets.