After a run of some years of heady double digit growth the Solar PV sector, the US has hit a period of slower growth in which some of the weaker players are being shaken out of the market. This year will be characterized by consolidation as more successful firms and better capitalized firms build their market share and absorb weaker players. This shakeout was inevitable and is natural, but it was undoubtedly triggered by the financial crash of late 2008 coupled with the bursting of the oil futures speculative bubble, and the temporary collapse in prices on the oil spot markets.
In spite of the current year’s stressful financial difficulties and revenue stagnation, according to a recent report by the market research firm Gartner, 2009 is expected to see a 24% growth rate on a gigawatt (GW) basis expanding to 6.4GW in 2009 and reaching 23.4GW by 2013,
The longer term outlook for the global PV market is considerably rosier as the current financial crisis abates and the temporary collapse in crude oil prices reverts to a long term trend of rising costs driven by an ever growing scarcity of supply. Gartner has predicted that the PV market is poised to continue a very rapid expansion with a 17 percent compound growth rate in revenue and is projected to reach $34 billion in global revenue by 2013.
This report also forecasts that crystalline silicon will remain the dominant PV technology during the next five years, despite rapid growth in thin-film PV sales, such as the CIGS thin film cells made by companies like First Solar. The is also because the temporary global shortage in supplies of hyper pure polysilicon that were hurting the growth of crystalline PV production is diminishing as large new production facilities are brought online. For example the giant German firm Wacker Chemie AG will build a $1 billion polysiliconfab plant in southeastern Tennessee.
The future does look very bright for the solar PV sector but in the near term some firms will not survive. But for those that do business will be very good indeed.
© 2009, Chris de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.