Global solar PV demand soars due to increased capacity in the UK, Japan

03. April 2014 | Markets & Trends, Global PV markets, Panorama | By:  Peter Carvill

Global solar PV demand in Q1 2014 showed a 35% increase over the same period last year, according to figures released by NPD Solarbuzz in its latest quarterly report. The same report predicts that all quarters of 2014 will hit new peaks following a record-breaking 2013.

Rooftop PV systems, U.K.

PV demand in the first quarter of 2014 was 35% higher than a year before, thanks in part to increased solar capacity in the U.K.

The report outlines the company's belief that the solar PV industry is to exceed 50 GW within a year for the first time. New PV demand, it says, added during Q1 2014 surpassed 9 GW. The reason for this, says the report, is due to strong growth in Japan and the United Kingdom, which accounted for more than a third of global solar PV demand in Q1 2014.

Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz, said, “This is the fifth straight year that a quarterly record has been set at the start of the year. While demand during the first quarter typically sets the low point for the year, deployment levels during this quarter provide an excellent means of benchmarking demand for the rest of the coming year.”

Barker added, “Purely on a pro rata basis, Q1 2014 provides strong confidence that 2014 solar PV demand will indeed reach, and possibly even surpass, the NPD Solarbuzz full-year forecast of 49 GW in 2014.”

Solarbuzz Quarterly’s prediction for the remainder of this year is predicated on a trend that has seen first quarter demand typically represent 20% of the year’s total. The full demand for 2013 was above 37 GW, said Solarbuzz in a press release, with 7 GW of that coming in Q1.  That global demand will reach and possibly surpass 49 GW by Q1 2015 buttresses the forecast made in Solarbuzz’s quarterly report released in December

The Solarbuzz release goes on to suggest that with the trailing 12 month demand, the industry’s true size may be almost 40 GW and that by Q1 2015, it will break through the 50 GW barrier. This, Solarbuzz predicts, will bring the industry “much closer to rational supply and demand levels”.

Finlay Colville, vice-president of NPD Solarbuzz, said, “During the past few years, the solar PV industry has been waiting for end-market demand to catch up with the excess manufacturing capacity added between 2010 and 2012. This wait is now coming to an end. As annual demand approaches the 50 GW level, suppliers will finally be able to shift their focus from short-term tactical survival to long-term strategic planning.”

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James Wimberley

Thursday, 03.04.2014 18:42

Let's hope the manufacturers are not going to wait to the end of the year before they start planning for the future. On past trends, demand in 2015 will be around 70GW. To meet this at customers' expectations of price and quality, the leading companies cannot rely simply on buying the ageing factories of bankrupt former competitors. They will need to build numbers of new gigawatt fabs with state-of-the-art technology, starting now.

I hope they will also up their spending on R&D, so as be in a position to introduce quickly whichever of the new product technologies matures first. The new fabs should be future-proofed.

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