Q1 PV module shipments decline

IMS Research’s new quarterly report has revealed that global photovoltaics module shipments have decreased by almost 10 percent in the first quarter of this year, having fallen from 6.4 GW in the fourth quarter of 2010 to 5.8 GW.

Meanwhile, it says that average prices have also fallen sharply. The lead up to the announcement of Italy’s new feed-in tariffs, which resulted in an "abrupt halt to demand in the booming Italian market" was said to be the main reason for this.

In a statement, IMS explains: "Great uncertainty in the Italian market has been a significant factor in slowing the booming PV market. Demand from Italy came to a stand-still overnight when it was announced that the current feed-in tariff would be suspended. This has led to high inventory levels and crashing end-market prices."

The research company predicts that both shipments and prices will continue to decline into the second quarter of this year. It adds that the prices for Chinese Tier-2 supplier crystalline modules will fall the quickest.

Following the announcement on May 5 of Italy’s new Conto Energia, IMS says that the decrease in module prices will begin to slow. However, it believes that "long-term damage to investor confidence and caps to the subsidy scheme will mean that the Italian market will not reach its 2010 size again in 2011".

Overall, the company remains positive about the growth in photovoltaic module shipments for 2011, with predictions that it will grow by around 20 percent to reach 24 GW.