2014 will at last the year that panel manufacturers begin to see their balance sheets return to the black, with analysts NPD Solarbuzz anticipating that demand for solar modules will outstrip supply. This comes after a period of nearly 3 years of global solar module oversupply which saw in rapid consolidation amongst module manufacturers. In 2010 there were around 250 suppliers–today only around 150 remain.
China, the US and Japan will lead the way in solar uptake in 2014, together comprising over 60% of global demand. Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz, notes that because of the supply-driven nature of the market, although the market share of these 3 countries together is unlikely to veer much away from 60%, any predictions regarding the final breakdown between them would prove trickier to anticipate.
“Looking at the global segmentation of the end-market demand in 2014, it is important again to consider the cumulative demand that is likely to be shipped into China, Japan, and the United States, rather than the specific number of gigawatts in each of these countries,” Mr Barker said. “A shortfall at any given time, in any one of these countries, will likely result in an uptick in demand from the other two.”
As an example, Solarbuzz notes that moves by the US to penalise Chinese/Taiwanese solar module manufacturers with import tariffs could simply result in China upping its solar PV installation targets–thus ensuring that there is still an end market for panels produced there. Given that this was exactly China’s response to the oversupplied market of the past 3 years, this is not an unlikely scenario.
Australia, despite its relatively small population, is also expected to be one of the notable solar markets in 2014. In spite of a winding back of incentive programs across the country, demand for residential & commercial solar installations in Australia remains strong thanks mainly to low solar installation costs and the high price of retail electricity.
Graph via NPD Solarbuzz.
© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd