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Solar PV shipments to exceed 16 GW in 2010 – but tough 2011

Solar photovoltaic (PV) module shipments have reached 4.4 GW in the second quarter of 2010 and are forecast to exceed 16 GW by year end, IMS Research says, but the analyst warns that 2011 will be much tougher.

For the full year 2010, global solar PV demand could more than double. The European markets are expected to more than double and a similar rate is forecast for the Americas market. Although Asia is forecast to grow even quicker, Europe is still predicted to account for about 80% of all new solar PV installations in 2010.

PV Research Director Ash Sharma, says: “PV demand has been extremely robust this year with high demand in major European markets such as Germany, Italy, France and the Czech Republic driven by impending cuts to incentives. This is compounded by the long-awaited emergence of the USA and China which will see exceptional growth this year and are set to become key global PV markets over the next five years.

“Global demand totalled around 8 GW in the first half of 2010 and all of our indicators show that the rest of the year will be as strong, if not stronger resulting in a market of more than 16 GW.”

High inventory levels

Channel inventory levels are high for solar PV modules at the moment at the end of Q2 as 4.3 GW had been shipped but not yet installed. These high inventory levels are likely to further impact on shipments in early 2011, given the predicted slowdown.

2011 – a tough year for solar?

2011 is expected to be much tougher and solar PV cell and module suppliers remain cautious as to how the market will cope with incentive cuts in Germany, Italy, France, the Czech Republic and several other markets. IMS Research therefore predicts a “considerable slowdown” in growth.

“In the last week we have spoken to dozens of suppliers throughout the entire supply chain,” says PV Research Analyst Sam Wilkinson.

“Very few are reporting any visibility beyond the fourth quarter and are bracing themselves for a major reduction in demand and shipments.

“IMS Research forecasts that the end of 2010, which has been an incredible year for the PV industry, will be marked by over 5 GW of PV installations being connected to the grid in the final quarter alone. However, installations are predicted to decline by 65% sequentially during the first quarter of 2011,” Wilkinson adds.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets