Top 5 countries by 2011 PV installations announced

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In a PV market brief report, IHS iSuppli believes that at 6.9 gigawatts (GW) (2010: 3.5 GW), Italy will surpass Germany, at 5.9 GW (2010: 7.4 GW), to become the leading country in terms of photovoltaic installations in 2011.

"…the Italian government’s attractive incentives boosted the country’s installations massively, giving it the top position worldwide," stated Henning Wicht, director and principal analyst for photovoltaics at IHS.

This is not the first hint that Italy would surpass Germany this year. In September, figures released from Italian network agency, GSE, said that the country was on track to take the installation crown. Meanwhile, IMS Research said in November that the country was gearing up to install around 6.8 GW.

According to IHS’s figures, the U.S. will rank third, behind Italy and Germany, with 2.7 GW of installed photovoltaic capacity (2010: 915 megawatts (MW)), while China, Japan and France, will follow, with 1.7 GW (2010: 537 MW), 1.3 GW (990 MW) and 963 MW (719 MW), respectively.

Dropping prices

The research company also discusses prices. It says that already in the third quarter of 2011, large photovoltaic systems in Germany were being offered at €1.60 euros per watt, down from €1.80. Prices for residential rooftop installations, meanwhile, were said to have fallen to €1.90 euros, from €2.20.

"Among less favorably positioned Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers in Germany, desperation selling had driven module prices to levels reaching 0.68 euros per watt," added IHS in a statement released.

Stabilization of photovoltaic system prices is, however, expected to be seen in the fourth quarter of this year, at €1.50 euros per watt for ground-mount and at €1.80 euros for rooftops, on the back of increased orders.

Looking ahead to 2012, IHS believes that further "price battles" will be seen, leading it to predict that overall module prices will hit €0.65 euros per Watt in March.

It goes on to say that polysilicon prices have also drastically dropped below US$30 per kilogram as of early November; "spot prices of $20 are possible by the March/April time frame given the continuing decline in demand," it said.

The statement continues, "Given the intense competition in the market and the current oversupply, gross profit margins from wafer to module production will be in the single-digit range. Even best-in-class companies will not be able to escape the pressure on margins, and savvy business plans will need to be adopted by firms to navigate the crunch, IHS believes."

Overall, photovoltaic demand is expected to be renewed by April, particularly in europe, and emerging countries such as India and China.