Photovoltaic market installations shine in 2010

Worldwide solar photovoltaic (PV) market installations soared in 2010, growing a huge 139 percent from 2009.

According to analysts at Solarbuzz, the industry hit a record high of 18.2 gigawatts (GW) last year and turned over $82 billion in global revenues, which easily trumped the $40 billion in 2009 and saw a year on year increase of 105 percent.

Almost all companies in the industry benefited, with the consultancy claiming that the PV chain successfully raised more than $10 billion in equity and debt over the last 12 months.

Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, Japan and the US were the top five countries to do well, raking in 80 percent of the global demand. Europe had reason to celebrate, representing 14.7 GW, or 81 percent of world demand in 2010. The top three countries in Europe were Germany, Italy, and the Czech Republic, which collectively accounted for 12.9 GW.

Japan fared very well, as did the US, with both markets growing by 101 percent and 96 percent, respectively.

Worldwide solar cell production reached 20.5 GW in 2010, up from 9.86 GW a year earlier, with thin film production accounting for 13.5 percent of total production.

This was largely down to China and Taiwan, which continued to build share and now account for 59 percent of global cell production, up from 49 percent last year.

Within these countries Suntech Power and JA Solar sat at the top in terms of growth and profit.

Polysilicon was also on the up, with eight of the top manufacturers accumulating 145,200 tonnes in 2010. Meanwhile the top 8 wafer manufacturers accounted for 45 percent of global wafer supply.

However, the excess of production from market demand caused crystalline silicon factory gate module prices to drop 14 percent in 2010.

Solarbuzz predicts that by 2015, the European market share will fall to between 45-54 percent as North America and several Asian markets grow rapidly. Over the next five years, factory gate module prices are also projected to drop between 37 percent and 50 percent from 2010 levels. 

The US will remain near the top and will be the fastest growing major country market over this period. 

Craig Stevens, president at Solarbuzz also warned that cuts in unit tariffs will be far more rapid than the industry’s pace of cost reduction. He added that alongside the US and China, Germany and Italy will rush to beat mid-year tariff reductions.

“Planned manufacturing capacity expansions will ensure the industry has adequate cell supplies over 2011 and 2012. However, the potential for excess supply taken together with already planned subsidy cuts will make both years challenging for the industry,” he added.