European solar market struggles to gain traction

Yes, there’s still strong market growth for photovoltaics here in Europe! That was the message in June this year, but falling prices haven’t helped give PV the shot in the arm it needs.

Germany is partly to blame for what Solarbuzz calls a faltering market in its latest report. Relief was imminent thanks to mid-year tariff reductions but the government decided to turn the lights off on that project.

Some areas of Europe in particular have been helpful to PV adoption in the past. Germany and Italy are the obvious examples, while the UK toys with the idea. PV installations have arguably already made their mark in Germany, where it’s not uncommon to see retail outlets on the street flogging their panel services. The age of uncapped and aggressive, government sponsored feed-in tariffs could be a thing of the past in developed markets like that.

Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic all lead growth in 2010. Italy is expected to overtake Germany by 2015, to hold 39 percent of market share. 

Solarbuzz says the average distie prices for crystalline silicon modules from China was dented 20 percent, reaching €1.28/W. Downturns in major markets, says Solarbuzz, did hit manufacturers in the first half. Crystalline silicon module prices have reached unthinkable lows of €0.75-1.00/W.

Over-valued inventories are a real problem right now for companies working in the downstream. Again, it’s because of PV incentive adjustments throughout Europe. Solarbuzz says Germans working with utilities are even worried that the capcity is creating a serious risk for overall grid stability.

Now there’s a focus from PV to that other eco-friendlier big businesses, electricity storage and smart-metering.

Ultimately that’s going to knock the deployment of PV.