Here is an outlook for 2012 on the global solar PV industry, done with the assistance of Dr. Henning Wicht, senior director and principal analyst, IHS iSuppli.
First, the outlook for the global solar PV industry for 2012. According to Dr. Wicht, the bottom up analysis results for the global solar PV industry is at 22 GW. However there is upside potential, e.g., in Italy and China, of a total of 6 GW.
On the same vein, what is the outlook for solar cell production in 2012? He said that based on the 22 GW market, 19.6 GW of cSi cells will be produced in 2012. If the market is growing faster (upside potential), then 24 GW is possible.
Let us now have a look at the current top 15 producers. The graphs here are for global crystalline module producers and global thin film module producers, as of Q2 2011. The data for 2012 will certainly look different.
Fig. 1 is about the crystalline module producers, as of Q2-11, with Suntech the leader at 9.8 percent share. Yingli with 6.8 percent and LDK with 6.4 percent are the next two.Global crystalline module producers Q2-11. Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.
The others are: Trina Solar 6.2 percent, Canadian Solar 5.2 percent, Sharp 4.6 percent, Jinko 3.7 percent, Hanwha Solar 3.6 percent, Jabil Circuit 3.5 percent, SolarWorld 3.3 percent, REC 3.2 percent, Sunpower and Kyocera with 2.8 percent each, Sanyo Electric 2.5 percent, Bosch Solar 2.4 percent and all of the others at 33.3 percent.
Fig. 2 is about the global thin film module producers, as of Q2 2011, with First Solar as the leader at 45.5 percent share.Global thin film module producers, Q2-11. Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.
Solar Frontier with 10.5 percent and Sharp with 5.6 percent are the next two. The others are pretty small at the moment, with some of the major ones being Q-Cells with 3 percent, Bosch Solar 1.7 percent, etc. Others constitute 15.5 percent.
Improve cost structure, diversify downstream!
Two years ago, iSuppli had advised: "improve the cost structure, improve the sales side, and diversify downstream." How true does these hold for 2012?
Dr. Wicht said: "This advice remains very valid. Since 2009, nearly all Western players have developed downstream activities. They are using the power plant business to outbalance week demand and to enter into emerging markets.
"The challenge is now at the Chinese players: How do you maintain the high utilization of factories when sales is not visibility and there is no downstream business? PV installations in China are used as a “fast exit”, generating module sales and maintaining utilization (e.g., Yingli)."
Newcomers? And, road to grid parity?
Are the newcomers still having problems in getting the required credit for their projects? Also, are more new players entering, or has there been a cutback? Dr. Wicht said: "The hype of solar has actually cooled down. However, we expect that as soon as profits are just being back, the next wave of investments and expansions will happen. That will lead to the next wave of oversupply."
And, what about a “bumpy road” to grid parity? What's the scenario like for 2012? Dr. Wicht replied: "Grid parity is very close. We will have it in 2012 for the German and Italian residential household. However, we won’t see a “grid parity” PV boom. It will be a smooth transition from subsidized to unsubsidized markets. The challenge is on the PV downstream side: how do you develop PV business models in unsubsidized markets? This will start in 2012 and is forecasted to lead to significant growth by 2014."
Finally, what about HCPV? Dr. Wicht said: "High concentrated PV will remain a niche in 2012 since EU market are not really suited. Soitec/Concentrix has been quite successful with projects in China and South Africa recently, and that’s why it’ll survive."