In its latest Marketbuzz report, NPD Solarbuzz writes that worldwide photovoltaic demand increased from 27.7 GW in 2011, to just 29 GW in 2012 down on the projections by many that demand would exceed 30 GW. This is the first time in a decade, it says, where annual growth has fallen to under 10%.
Its status as the market leader may be on the wane, but Europe still emerged as the largest regional market in 2012, accounting for 16.48 GW, or nearly 60% of the 29 GW demand. This is down from 68% and 82% in 2011 and 2010, respectively.
Asia, meanwhile, ranked second in terms of 2012 photovoltaic demand with 8.69 GW, followed by North America with 3.49 GW, Latin America and the Caribbean with 190 MW (California was said to account for over one third of the demand in the Americas), and the Middle East and Africa with 140 MW.
While the figures are disappointing when compared with the growth patterns of previous years, NPD Solarbuzz says that last year did see a record set, with the 29 GW of demand covering 30% of installed photovoltaic capacity at the end of 2012.
However, states Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz, "For supply and demand to have been balanced during 2012, end-market demand should have approached the 45 GW level. This is 50% higher than actual PV demand in 2012, and reflects the lack of demand elasticity that characterizes the PV industry today. It also explains why even those companies that gained market share in 2012 still ended up reporting significant operating losses."
Overall, NPD Solarbuzz predicts that "rapid globalization" will occur in 2013, with photovoltaic growth coming from Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, and emerging Asian markets. The company cautions, however, that due to uncertainties in the regions, adoption could be impacted.
Finlay Colville, vice president of Solarbuzz tells pv magazine these uncertainties include issues with gird infrastructure, financing, competition from other renewables and corruption.