Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Solar Growth: By the Numbers.

There's a lot of talk about solar growing pains, but there is still a lot of growth out there around the globe for photovoltaic players.

Recent data provided by Boston-based Lux Research shows some healthy growth profiles for solar around the globe. The growth of all the big publicly traded solar companies, from U.S. leaders First Solar(FSLR) and SunPower(STP), to the competition from China in the form of Yingli Green Energy(YGE), Suntech Power(STP) and Canadian Solar(CSIQ), is a market share struggle predicated on a growing solar capacity.

Recent reports of big cutbacks in solar incentives from Germany and Italy have showed how quickly the outlook can change for solar companies.

Ironically, the biggest growth also illustrates the biggest growing pains for solar. For the period between 2000 and 2013, the Lux Research shows Italy and California with the largest rates of growth. Italy will grow by 76.5%, while California's solar market grows by 72.6%.

However, Italy made news on Tuesday with its plans to implement a hard cap on solar by 2020, at 8 gigawatts (GW), upsetting long-term forecasts for Italy's big role in the long-term growth of solar.

Greece is expected to grow by 70% through 2013.

However, if the current political winds in Germany -- which have pitted its weak economy versus the favorable solar feed-in tariffs -- are any indication of a wider spread European pushback against solar support, this growth rate may have to be reset. Still, at a total expected capacity of 265 megawatts(MW) in 2013, Greece is sizable, but not a game-changing solar market.

Trina Solar(TSL Quote) announced a deal in Australia on Jan. 21 to provide 10 MW of solar modules to Australia's biggest distributor. Still, Lux Research sees Australia only growing by a total of 28% between the period of 2000 to 2013, and in 2013, will have an installed capacity of 70MW.

The Lux Research numbers do show the extent to which the biggest solar markets will continue to dominate growth prospects. Aside from the 11 countries -- and California -- detailed by Lux Research in the chart above, the rest of the world is only expected to account for 1.9 GW of solar capacity in 2013, versus a global total installation level in 2013 of above 17 GW

All the focus is on Europe these days when it comes to solar growth, and not always for bullish reasons.
 
 
 
The looming feed-in tariff cuts and hard solar caps from Germany and Italy, respectively, could be game-changing events for solar. Still, Europe is by far the largest player in the solar sector's growth, and new data from Cambridge, Mass.-based Emerging Energy Research details the solar consultant's growth trajectory for the Top Ten European solar markets in 2010.

There is a doubling of capacity -- and, in some cases, more than doubling of capacity -- in many of the big European markets.

Take the Czech Republic, where capacity is expected to spike from 234MW in 2009 to 634 MW in 2010. Solarfun Power(SOLF Quote) is one big Chinese solar player that has set its sights on the Czech Republic's growth.

The Czech Republic's total capacity growth year over year, from 234MW in 2009 to 634MW in 2010, is the largest in sheer mega wattage, after the biggest existing markets -- Germany, Spain and Italy.

Greece is poised to pop from just 54MW in 2009 to 354MW in 2010, according to the Emerging Energy Research data.

Of course, it's important to remember that these are just forecasts, subject to the current quickly changing political climate and, also, subject to varying levels of subjectivity.

While Emerging Energy Research sees Greece growing to the level of 354MW in 2010, the Lux Research projection is only for 200MW in Greece by the end of the year - even though Lux is projecting Greece's growth trajectory through 2013 at above 70%.

Lux' numbers do seem fairly conservative. Take Italy, where Lux sees the market growing to between 1.1GW and 1.2GW in 2010. That was also the projection of the Italian government, but it has more recently indicated that it expects to hit the 1.2GW mark in mid-2010.


Courtesy: http://www.thestreet.com/story/10669160/2/solar-growth-by-the-numbers.html

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