A glut of photovoltaic solar panels has swamped the market due to increased production but less demand, causing some companies to go bankrupt and a general malaise for the whole industry. Lux Research, however, contends that the solar industry must now target high-growth markets such as China and India in an attempt to transform in a cost-conscious environment.
“While some historically strong demand markets will continue to pay dividends, the real winners going forward will need to make a few well-informed bets,” said Matt Feinstein, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report titled, Past is Prologue: Market Selection Strategy in a New Solar Policy Environment.
“Successful players will anchor business in key developed regions like the U.S., Europe, Japan, and China, and place informed bets in markets like South/Central America, the Middle East, and Africa, through new offices or partnerships,” he added.
In its report, Lux Research analysed the risk versus reward for distributed and utility-scale solar in countries around the world, basing their analysis on policy and market factors. Among their findings were the following:
- Europe shines for distributed generation. Established markets remain fruitful for distributed generation despite downturns in demand and reduced feed-in tariffs. Markets such as Germany and Italy have demonstrated a strong preference for rooftop systems and have strong existing channels to market.
- Utility-scale generation soars in emerging markets. High-growth markets come with high risks as well, but emerging economies of India, China, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia are set to become solar powers. Competition is booming in the last three in particular, and each will exceed installation targets.
- Fortune favors the bold. In solar, firms that take calculated risks and expand quickly into foreign markets will boost success, as First Solar and many Chinese module manufacturers have shown. As the Chinese industry consolidates, opportunities exist for other global players.
The solar industry has suffered over the past little while due to the massive increase of Chinese solar module production. However, Director of the Resnick Sustainability Institute and Howard Hughes Professor and Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science at Caltech Dr. Harry A. Atwater recently cut across the traditional line of thinking, saying that the current glut of solar panels is a good thing for the industry:
“There has never been a better time to go ‘long’ on innovative solar technology. If we invest now, by the time the industry recovers from today’s oversupply crisis, very advanced innovations will have emerged that can fuel the next wave of solar technology. These will build on the momentum created by the current phase of the market and dramatically expand the usefulness and adoption of solar.”
Regardless, the solar industry is in for an interesting year ahead, with the possibility for great change and growth, or spectacular failure.
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