Despite the tragedy in Japan causing a massive amount of damage, the solar manufacturing industry appears to be mainly in working order.
Solarbuzz has told TechEye this is because much of Japan’s industrial heartland is based in the central part of the country and did not suffer the same destructive fate as those in the north.
Though the analyst outfit did point out that M.Setek’s facilities suffered. It told us that despite PV companies escaping relatively unscathed, the same could not be said about their suppliers, which could have been affected.
The PV supply chain works in pretty much the same way as other industries. Smaller companies supply materials such as chemicals, machinery and parts, which all go someway to making the whole industry work. Some disruptions could have occurred, meaning there could be overall delays.
Customers could be affected. As a result, PV installations could slow down for a while.
There are broader implications expected for PV stemming from the nuclear crisis, in terms of how to balance renewable, nuclear and conventional energy sources.
The crisis has highlighted how fragile the industry is, and has given lobbyists more power, according to Solarbuzz. As a result, the company believes that whatever the eventual outcome at Fukushima, European policy tightening will now be driven “by the need to manage the cost of escalating PV programs at a time of tough fiscal constraints and weak economic growth.”
China could be rushing ahead in the PV market, with Solarbuzz predicting that the new target for 2015 in the country could hit over the 10GW mark. But it was set to happen anyway – rather than because of trouble abroad.
Solarbuzz described it to us as a “catalyst which happens to overlap with the revision coincidentally. Solarbuzz has expected this revision since several months ago. Our forecasts of 2015 cumulative capacity for the three scenarios have been about 9GW, 12GW, and 18GW, respectively.”
However, some Chinese manufacturers could benefit from the supply chain problems in Japan, especially PV suppliers with excessive capacity looking for markets. But the Chinese government would have to align the regulatory framework.
Non-Chinese manufacturers are finding it hard to compete with Chinese companies, who generally have better cost structure.