From A to Z of Cleantech:
The global solar energy market in 2008 is expected to grow by 50 percent compared to 2007. The Chinese solar PV industry is growing rapidly and will soon be the biggest producer of solar cells and modules in the world. There are now over 100 Chinese solar module manufacturers, and even more new market players are expected in the short term. The question is: what might the current credit crisis and pessimistic economic forecasts mean for the PV market and industry in 2009?
With solar modules becoming a commodity product, China will definitely be playing a key role as a major producer of solar cells and modules. However, if we look at the maturity of the PV industry right now, and what has happened in other industries, an imminent consolidation phase seems likely. That could mean that fewer producers, and only the bigger ones among them, will survive. So which companies are likely to be the winners, and be reliable business partners for the long term?
Global PV market developments
The PV market is likely to grow less rapidly in 2009. First of all, the world's biggest market in 2008 – Spain – has reduced its support for solar energy. Feed-in tariffs will be cut by 30% in 2009 and, even more significantly, only 500 MWp of new installed PV power will be eligible for this feed-in tariff. This could lead to a decrease in volume for the Spanish market of more than 60%. With feed-in tariffs going down by around 10% in the German PV market, which was the world's biggest PV market for many years, it is likely to grow, but at a moderate rate. Growth in other markets is also dependent on government support programs. And although the US government recently agreed on an eight-year extension of the federal tax credit scheme for solar energy, the US market is not likely to grow very rapidly. The current credit crisis, and the economic recession forecasted for 2009, will limit the available finance from banks, and therefore also limit the development of new PV projects.
On the supply side, along with the global PV industry as a whole, supply will grow even faster than market demand in 2009. A conservative forecast by the Prometheus Institute suggests that solar module production volume will grow by a massive 80% in 2009. Most of the investments in new production capacity were planned between late 2007 and 2008, under the highly profitable market conditions.
Last September, SolarPlaza held the second Global PV Demand Conference in Valencia, Spain. The conclusion was that the huge growth in solar module production over the next two years, compared with the ‘modest’ growth in demand, would lead to an oversupply situation commencing in 2009....MORE