The upcoming NPD Solarbuzz Marketbuzz report set to be released in March reports findings that solar photovoltaic (PV) demand for 2012 only reached 29 GW, an increase of only 5% year-over-year compared to 27.7 GW in 2011.
Sadly, 2012 is the first year in a decade that year-over-year market growth in the PV industry has been less than 10%.
“During most of 2012, and also at the start of 2013, many in the PV industry were hoping that final PV demand figures for 2012 would exceed the 30 GW level,” explained Michael Barker, Senior Analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “Estimates during 2012 often exceeded 35 GW as PV companies looked for positive signs that the supply/demand imbalance was being corrected and profit levels would be restored quickly. Ultimately, PV demand during 2012 fell well short of the 30 GW mark.”
Europe remained the largest regional market with 16.48 GW of PV demand, totalling almost 60% of the global demand for 2012. This figure is down, however, from 68% in 2011 and 82% in 2010. For a long time Germany has spearheaded the growth in Europe, but in recent months has started to lose ground to the US and China.
Unsurprisingly, to those who have been following the solar industry’s exploits over the past few years, the second largest region for PV demand was Asia, coming in with 8.69 GW, thanks in part to the growth of the Chinese end-market during the second half of the year.
Of particular note from the remaining regions, California provided more than one-third of all PV demand from the entire Americas region during 2012.
“For supply and demand to have been balanced during 2012, end-market demand should have approached the 45 GW level,” added Barker. “This is 50% higher than actual PV demand in 2012, and reflects the lack of demand elasticity that characterizes the PV industry today. It also explains why even those companies that gained market-share in 2012 still ended up reporting significant operating losses.”
NPD Solarbuzz are currently predicting rapid globalisation this year, thanks to growth in regions including Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and emerging Asian markets.
“The role of emerging regions will be pivotal to PV industry supply and demand during 2013 and will offer a leading indicator for how quickly the industry can exceed the 30 GW annual run-rate level,” concluded Barker.