Positive start to year for PV module market, says report

The first half of the year saw high demand from major PV markets, particularly Germany where proposed feed-in tariff cuts drove demand to new levels, it says. Solar module shipments are forecast to increase once again in the third quarter to reach 4.3 GW.

“In contrast to the first half of 2009, when declining module prices and poor economic conditions stalled the market, current market conditions have led to huge a huge surge with PV module shipments in Q1’10 increasing by over 60 percent compared to the same quarter of the previous year,” commented research analyst, Sam Wilkinson. “PV module suppliers are undoubtedly enjoying this surge in demand and results have improved significantly. We predict that average gross margins will reach over 30 percent this quarter.”

First Solar, which currently enjoys some of the highest gross margins of PV module manufacturers remained the largest supplier in the first quarter of this year, continued the report. However, its share of module shipments decreased for the fifth consecutive quarter and the gap between it and its crystalline competitors closed further, a trend that is likely to continue throughout this year.

Whilst IMS Research predicts that total PV module shipments will grow by 60 percent this year, shipments of Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) modules (dominated by First Solar) are forecast to increase by just 20 percent due to limited capacity increases for the technology until 2011; these results will mean that CdTe’s share of shipments will decrease from nearly 11percent last year to just over eight percent this year.

In contrast, concluded the report, the five largest Chinese module manufacturers – Suntech, Trina, Yingli, Canadian Solar and Solarfun – all suppliers of crystalline technology, continued to increase their command of the market and their combined share of global shipments reached 28 percent in the first quarter.