Global solar PV installations will reach 24 GW this year, according to a new report from IMS Research. Despite the relatively weak start to the year, installations will rise by 24% in 2011 to reach 24 GW – up from 19 GW in 2010. The research also revealed that European installations will rise by just 3% this year and that Italy will displace Germany as the world's largest market.
IMS Research's recently released Q4'11 PV Demand Database shows that installations exceeded 8 GW in the first half of 2011 and will reach 15 GW in the second half, confirming the firm's prediction earlier in the year that installations would soar in the second half of this year.
However, although installations have grown considerably, this growth has not necessarily translated into a surge in demand for PV components because of high inventory levels.
‘Despite installations in the second half of the year being almost double those in the first half, most suppliers didn't see any considerable uptick in orders,’ says Ash Sharma, senior research director for photovoltaics at IMS Research. ‘This is simply as a result of the high inventory levels in the channel, with customers installing previously purchased modules and inverters.’
Earlier in the year, module inventory stood at a huge 10 GW, while inverter inventory was at an unusually high level of 6 GW, IMS Research notes.
Despite a freeze and then cuts to its incentives earlier this year, Italy is forecast to become the world's largest market in 2011 for the first time and install 6.8 GW of new capacity. Yet despite the strong performance of the Italian market, Europe is set for another underwhelming performance this year, with installations growing by just 3% because of falls in Germany and the Czech Republic and slowdowns elsewhere, according to the report.
‘The upswing in Italian installations won't be sufficient to counter falls from Germany and the Czech Republic, and Europe's share of global installations will sharply fall from 82 percent in 2010 to 68 percent in 2011,’ Sharma says.
IMS Research found that although Europe is stagnating, the U.S. and Asian markets are performing well; these two regions will generate 85% of the global growth in installations in 2011. Furthermore, the research found that this trend is forecast to continue into 2012, when Europe's share of new installations will fall to 50%.
‘The PV market continues to diversify in 2011,’ Sharma says. ‘This will create short-term pain for suppliers that can no longer solely rely on one market to fuel their growth, but creates long-term stability for the industry by helping to balance the effects of a single country's incentive policy and reduce large swings in supply and demand.
‘This diversification is clearly continuing to happen, and we have identified 20 markets that will install more than 100 MW in 2011 – up from just 14 last year,’ he continues.
‘Despite installing just 45 MW last year, the U.K. is set to install more than 500 MW in 2011 and become the eighth largest PV market,’ Sharma says. ‘The attractive incentive levels helped kick-start the market, but the changes to the tariff during the year to prevent large-scale projects and the sudden cuts proposed for December have created a surge in demand.’