10Jan

2011 Residential Solar Market on the Rise Let’s Not Pump and Dump This Time

Monday | Filed in: Politics Solar Energy

Residential solar installers are pounding out home and commercial solar installations across America, but let’s not forget what happened in the 80’s. Just 25 years ago the solar industry was dumped and all the government money pumped into the industry was lost when the government abruptly cut and ran. A lesson from history would suggest that the solar subsidies should be slowly reduced in a predictable and scheduled way that has certainty not uncertainty.

In an attempt to keep up with PV market demands, solar installation courses, have been and will continue to be offered on-line and in schools to aid many entering the solar jobs market. The eventual extra dollars in the hands of consumers from household solar savings and other renewable energy sources will stabilize the economy (the extra $300-400 a month on household income has to be spent somewhere). The air would become cleaner. The present mid-east terrorist funding with oil profits would be stifled.

What’s in store for 2011? Five predictions on the solar market based on a report from Edwin Mok, an analyst at Needham & Co. LLC and written about in EEtimes by Mark LaPedus might shed some light on the subject.

Slowdown in European solar markets is on the horizon. ”While we are not substantially more bullish than the consensus view for solar installation, we are still projecting solar installation to grow 13 percent year over year to 16.7GW in 2011 versus over 100 percent growth seen in 2010. The slower growth rate is based largely on our belief that a slowdown in Germany, the Czech Republic and France will dwarf strong growth in other key PV markets, including the U.S., Italy, Japan, Canada and China.

Oversupply of solar panels. ”Additionally, we expect oversupply conditions to return in 2011, as strong demand in 2010 prompted aggressive capacity expansions, and much of the additional capacity will hit the market in 2011. We believe the new capacity will lead to a supply/demand imbalance, eventually pressuring the price of downstream products.”

”Oversupply of solar panels could result in renewed price pressure in 2011, but polysilicon and wafer should continue to have better pricing trends. We are concerned that the solar inverter space could swing from under supply in 2010 to oversupply in 2011, resulting in a more competitive pricing environment for solar inverter companies.

We believe the leading c-Si producers will have fully loaded costs approaching $1.10/W by the end of 2011, and most producers in low-cost regions will have costs of $1.20-1.40/W. With gross margins of 15-20 percent, we believe many solar players can sustain another 15-35 percent reduction in prices to $1.30-1.50/W.”

”Germany should continue to be the biggest solar market in the world in 2011, but after four years of very strong growth (55 percent CAGR) we expect German solar installations to decline 18 percent owing to lower FiT rates.” That does not mean that the German market is now broken, it is just slowing to level off from strong growth.

”Italy should be a very strong solar panel market in 2011. Czech Republic will see a big fall-off in demand in 2011, as it takes more drastic measures to reduce the favorable but unrealistic FiT subsidies that generate very high IRRs, in our view. France’s government is likely to enact a ‘soft cap’ to its subsidy program, which we believe will limit France to a 500MW per year installation rate. We see little to no growth for 2011 installations in France.

In the U.S., we are projecting solid solar panel installation growth in 2011, as a number of large-scale utility projects should start in 2011 and the U.S. commercial solar market should continue to grow. China should become an important solar market in 2011, as the country moves slowly from limited demonstration programs to wider adoption within the country.”

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