A bullish outlook for solar in 2014, says Deutsche Bank


A poll conducted by Deutsche Bank research analyst Vishal Shah at this week’s Solar Power International event in Chicago has revealed that most solar companies in attendance anticipate a rather bullish 2014 for the industry.

Although official figures are yet to be confirmed, investor attendance at the conference has increased markedly, and is possibly the highest since the onset of the financial crisis. The bullish mood was reflected across the board, with Deutsche Bank reporting that most companies expect global PV installations to reach 45-50 GW in 2014.

While Europe will continue its period of consolidation, emerging markets will join the U.S. in creating numerous robust solar industries elsewhere, chiefly in South America and the burgeoning Middle East. China and Japan will continue to enjoy strong growth, driven by Yingli Green and Trina Solar, who will "remain the picks in the Chinese solar sector," according to Shah.

By the end of 2013, the prevailing feeling is that China will have installed between 8 and 9 GW this year – up from a prior estimate of 5-6 GW. This increase can be partly attributed to a rush of solar installations in Western China, where the onset of 2014 marks a reduction in incentives from RMB 1.0/kWh to 90c/kWh. Next year, China is forecast to install PV capacity somewhere in the region of 12-15 GW.

Pricing is set to remain stable in Japan and increase slightly in China, while solar companies also expect that some supply shortages will affect certain global markets next year, specifically the cell and wafer markets. Polysilicon will also be in short supply, a situation likely to lead to slight price increases, from $18-19/kg currently to at least $20/kg before the second half of 2014.

As a result of expected supply shortages and modest price increases, companies may struggle to increase their production capacity, says Shah, with CapEx limits geared around an expectation that second-hand equipment will be more widely available in 2014 as many of the industry’s smaller players go insolvent and sell off their wares.

In China, tier 2/3 manufacturers will have difficulties accessing capital, while tier 1 manufacturers will have to rein in their own expansion plans in the face of poly, cell and wafer shortages. More widely, however, the forecast expects Japan to burst out of the blocks for Q1, with China slowly exerting more control as the year progresses, perhaps accounting for 35% of all Q4 shipments.