Solar spending could reach $3.8bn in 2014, says IHS

In the wake of three straight quarters of capital expenditure growth in the PV industry, analysts IHS are confident that global PV capital spending will rise by as much as 45% this year, reaching an estimated $3.8 billion.

This new round of solar spending is most evident among Tier 1 PV manufacturers, says IHS’s PV Manufacturing & Capital Spending Tool – Q1 ’14 report, which suggests that signs are strong that full utilization rates and increases in manufacturing investment will continue throughout the year, particularly in emerging markets.

"Since August of 2013, IHS has observed strong signs that a new capital spending cycle would start in 2014," said IHS solar analyst Jon Campos. "Key factors such as market sentiment, PV demand and equipment-supplier bookings have continued to progress as a result of a healthy level of optimism."

That optimism is most apparent in Latin America, which is expected to head the pack in manufacturing capacity growth for solar panels with an expansion rate of 35%. Although slightly down on last year’s 42% growth, this year’s expansion represents a healthy, sustained level of confidence and capital expenditure in the region’s PV market, with IHS even predicting growth to grow to 147% next year and into 2016. Spending in the Middle East-Africa market will also enjoy a healthy 2014, increasing by 33%, with North America enjoying a 13% rise in investment.

Expanding manufacturing

A number of the world’s leading solar PV companies are leading the charge into emerging markets, ramping up investment in manufacturing in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Among them is China’s Hanergy, which has recently announced plans to construct a $500 million thin-film PV factory in the Ivory Coast, West Africa. Fellow Chinese giant JA Solar – in collaboration with Powerway PV – has also unveiled details of plans to build a 150 MW PV plant in South Africa, while Germany’s JVG Thoma has completed a 10 MW module plant in Nigeria – the country’s first such facility.

Brazilian solar company Solar-Par Participacoes has revealed plans this week to invest $103 million in a 95 MW vertically integrated solar module production facility in the southeastern Brazilian state of Espirito Santo. Production at the plant is scheduled for early 2015, and will include a state-of-the-art, $5 million research and development center designed to augment Brazil’s domestic PV market capabilities.