7th Fab Managers Forum: PV industry drought continues

Massive global overcapacity of wafers, cells and modules continues to be the main problem, states Stefan de Haan, principal photovoltaics analyst at IHS Solar Research, with levels remaining well above expected 2013 global photovoltaic capacity additions.

Slightly more optimistic than NPD SolarbuzzÂ’s 31 GW demand forecasts, de Haan predicts that around 35 GW of newly installed photovoltaics will be added this year, thus representing between 10 and 15% growth on 2012.

Meanwhile, he expects around 56 GW of solar grade polysilicon to be produced, in addition to approximately 49 GW of wafers, 48 GW of cells and 59 GW of modules.

NPD Solarbuzz vice president, Finlay Colville believes excess capacity will gradually decline, although the situation will remain tense for the solar industry until 2015, with both high price and cost pressures continuing.

Above all, the equipment manufacturers have had to adjust themselves to the drought. And, while Colville expects the global photovoltaic equipment market to attract sales of about US$3.5 billion to $4 billion in 2013, compared to $2.5 billion in 2012, this figure is well below the record level achieved in 2011, when over $13 billion worth of equipment was sold.

There will be hardly any investments in new technologies, like selective emitter, PERC or Pluto cells, added the CTO of Hareon Solar. He expects to see mainly upgrades to existing lines in 2013. "The large tier-1 manufacturers are trying at all costs to maintain and capture market share," added Colville.

For the moment, hope is being placed in growing markets, chiefly those outside of Europe. IHS analyst de Haan expects to see particular growth momentum in China, the U.S., Japan, India and the U.K.

Translated and edited by Becky Beetz.