26th EU PVSEC: What will happen next?


The EU PVSEC has opened for business for the 26th time. Located in Germany’s Hamburg, the overall atmosphere on the first day of this inaugural event is, in certain halls, bustling, despite comments that it is off to a rather slow start.

And, while the mist was lingering in the air this morning, it has since lifted to let the sun shine through – hopefully a positive sign for the week ahead.

One of the key questions posed at the opening conference was, "What will happen next year?" This, said Ingmar Wilhelm, president of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), is already a concern today.

He said that consolidation in the industry is already going on, and is even accelerating.

He added that competition among producers is increasing; this is specifically being seen in the rapid price declines, which have occurred in the first half of this year.

China, Japan, and "maybe" Korea and Malaysia are expected to contribute "much more than we have seen so far" to the industry. Currently, Europe accounts for around 70 percent of the market share. This is, however, expected to decline in 2012 to around 50 percent.

Furthermore, Wilhelm said that it will become more difficult for inefficient manufacturers to operate. The engineering, procurement and construction industry will also come under cost pressure. Overall, however, the solar market will continue to grow and new business models will emerge.

Specifically, there will be a push in the market to concentrate on downstream innovations: the "easy phase of making money is over".

Meanwhile, it was said that while the past few weeks has seen announcements of bankruptcies and reductions in manufacturing capacities, for every venture that fails, there are many which are able to "grow and excel".

Watch out for more news from the 26th EU PVSEC, which will run until September 9.