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Published on July 23rd, 2013 | by Giles Parkinson

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Solar Modules 20% Lower Than Last Year



This article originally published on RenewEconomy

Two of the key metrics that will be watched closely in the global solar industry reporting season that has just commenced are the price of panels sold, and the cost of manufacture. The difference is what the industry calls the margin.

For the past few years, the surplus of capacity meant that margins were mostly negative, but the rebalancing of the market, as some manufacturers go out of business, and the Chinese, Japanese and US markets drive strong growth, mean most manufacturers are in positive territory.

One of the most misunderstood aspects of the solar industry is that once the market is re-balanced, then prices of solar modules will rebound, and the recent lows will never be seen again.

That assumes that the price fall was driven only by over-capacity, but what is clear from most manufacturers is that the cost of manufacture of solar modules will also continue to fall, and in some cases quite dramatically.

REC Solar, one of the leading European solar companies produced these two graph in its results last week.

The first is the price of solar modules, which shows a rebound. The second is the crucial one for the future of the industry, and its ability to undercut fossil fuels over the long term, because it shows that the cost of manufacture of a solar module will fall around 20 per cent over the year – despite the 60-80 per cent falls achieved over the previous three to four years. The same story is expected to be repeated among many other manufacturers.

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As Tim Buckley, asset manager with ArkX noted: The economies of increasing scale and technology gains continue.

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About the Author

is the founding editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia's energy grid with great interest.



  • heinbloed
    • xclvet
    • Bob_Wallace

      You can accurately say that panel prices have increased recently but the second part of your claim is unfounded.

      The industry states that prices will soon start falling and will fall considerably below their previous low.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Heinbloded, those words, I do not think they mean what you think they mean.

  • Steeple

    Is there anyone doing quality testing on these panels aka Consumer Reports to track the differences between manufacturers?

    • Bob_Wallace

      There’s some sort of a certification process being set up. I haven’t kept track of how far along it is.

      Financing institutions are going to want some assurance that they are loaning money to projects which are being built with decent quality inputs.

    • xclvet
  • Shiggity

    Unfortunately for the EU, that recent up swing now turning downwards, was all of their manufacturers going out of business and the tariff spat.

    • xclvet

      Hype.

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