In the six months between the beginning of Q4 2013 and March next year, some 22 GW of capacity will be installed say the analysts – the equivalent of a new 5 MW solar farm every hour. By the end of 2013, an estimated 36 GW of solar capacity will have been installed around the globe, with NPD Solarbuzz’s 2014 predictions set to eclipse that figure by more than 30%.
"The solar PV industry has reached a critical tipping point, with end-market demand hitting record levels almost every quarter," said NPD Solarbuzz vice president Finlay Colville. "This growth is being driven by leading module suppliers and project developers that returned to profitability during 2013, and which have now established highly effective global sales and marketing networks."
The report also anticipates that Q4 for 2013 will break further records for solar capacity, with the 12 GW barrier set to be broken for the first time ever, followed by further record-breaking installation figures for the first quarter of 2014.
As echoed by a fellow solar forecast from IHS, NPD Solarbuzz see the three markets of China, Japan and the U.S. leading the way, anticipating that two-thirds of all solar panels installed in Q4 2013 will be located in these three regions.
Fuelled by these record levels of demand, production utilization rates for tier-1 manufacturers are likely to exceed 90%, with many of China’s leading crystalline silicon module suppliers achieving costs of below $0.50 per watt for both silicon and non-silicon. Such market conditions may spur capacity additions in manufacturing, bringing to an end an 18-month period of manufacturing dormancy.
"Manufacturing overcapacity and pricing erosion within the PV industry was previously a key factor in limiting annual growth to between 10-20% between 2011 and 2013," said Colville. "With a more stable pricing environment and the prospect of increased end-market globalization, NPD Solarbuzz forecasts a return to annual growth above 30% for the PV industry in 2014."
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