According to market research firm NPD Solarbuzz, the annual growth rate for global PV demand fell to a ten-year low in 2012.
The upcoming Marketbuzz report concludes that PV demand last year reached 29 GW – lower than recent estimates of 30 to 32 GW from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association – which is a rise of just five percent from the 27.7 GW level of 2011.
“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,” said 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.”
This five percent annual increase represents the first time in a decade that PV market growth has been below ten percent.
In a breakdown of global PV demand for 2012, NPD Solarbuzz found that Europe made up almost 60 percent of total demand with 16.48 GW, with Asia coming in second with 8.69 GW of demand.
North America, Latin America and the Caribbean made up 13 percent of demand for solar but a large part of that was solely from California, which the report attributes to the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards and rebates.
Although the 29 GW of PV added in 2012 is an annual record, the research firm says the figure is disappointing compared to expectations.
“For supply and demand to have been balanced during 2012, end-market demand should have approached the 45 GW level,” said 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.”
The research firm predicts that 2013 will see growth from developing regions like Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, and some parts of Asia.