Global solar market to grow by 20% in 2014


Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) surveyed some of the world's most knowledgeable and respected solar analysts to harvest their expert opinion on how the solar sector is likely to perform in 2014.

The results revealed that most experts anticipate PV capacity to grow by approximately 44.5 GW this year, swelling the industry by 20.9% compared to 2013.

BNEF polled figureheads at IHS Inc., Deustche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings Plc, Citigroup Inc., Yingli, NPD Solarbuzz,. Wacker Chemie AG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, with each representative putting forward their predictions.

Capacity in the global solar PV market grew by 20.3% between 2012 and 2013, so experts agreed that similar levels of growth are to once again be expected in 2014. China will lead the way this year, cementing its position as the world's largest solar PV market ahead of Japan and the U.S., with state support for PV pushing the industry towards an additional 10-14 GW of capacity. These ‘Big Three' will help propel PV to greater heights, believe many.

"After two years of a punishing downturn, the global solar industry is on the rebound," said IHS senior research director for solar, Ash Sharma. "Worldwide PV installations are set to rise by double digits in 2014, solar manufacturing capital spending is recovering, module prices are stabilizing and emerging markets are on the rise."

A more balanced market

While European installation levels have slumped, growth in China, Japan and the U.S. is being mirrored – albeit on a smaller scale – it the new emerging markets of Brazil, Chile, Thailand and Australia.

In Asia, the solar heavyweights – including SunPower Corp. and Yingli – are returning to profit, a fact reflected in solar share prices, which have risen over the past 12 months. According to Bloomberg, the NYSE Bloomberg Global Solar Energy Index has grown by 70% in the last year, while solar manufacturers have begun to emerge from their enforced hibernation caused by a global oversupply of affordable solar equipment in 2012 and 2013.

SunPower, Panasonic and Yingli have all reported encouraging financial figures, with the second quarter of this year promising to be a watershed moment as even more leading companies post their first profits for as much as three years.

"The 2013 figures show the astonishing scale of the Chinese market," said BNEF’s head of solar analysis, Jenny Chase. "PV is becoming ever cheaper and simpler to install, and China’s government has been as surprised as European governments by how quickly it can be deployed in response to incentives."

In total, BNEF report that $102 billion was invested in global solar installations in 2013. This year, IHS’s Sharma expects that manufacturers of polysilicon are set to benefit the most, owing to the disappearance of the oversupply that bedeviled markets at the beginning of last year.

"We are not expecting bottlenecks,” the analyst said, “but the supply-demand gap is closing."

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