Solar Tribune

Report: Global PV demand falls in Q1 2013 thanks to Chinese volatility


According to NPD Solarbuzz, global demand for solar PV in the first quarter of 2013 will be just 6.2 GW, down 23% from the previous quarter.

The research firm credits the decline installation to volatility in China, noting both seasonality and policy incentive deadlines. As a result, demand in China comes in waves, while other markets around the world are more stable.

According to the Solarbuzz Quarterly report, China will nevertheless account for over 20 percent of worldwide PV demand this year, with estimated installations between 0.9 and 3.6 GW.

“Chinese solar PV demand was the key global driver at the end of 2012, which helped to deplete upstream inventory levels that had accumulated over previous quarters,” said Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz.

Credit: NPD Solarbuzz Quarterly report, March 2013

Credit: NPD Solarbuzz Quarterly report, March 2013

“However, extreme swings in PV demand from China over the next year will make capacity utilization and inventory control particularly challenging,” said Barker. “At the same time, demand from other global PV markets is beginning to offer predictable quarterly demand levels that are essential for long-term planning.”

Germany, Italy, France and the UK will together account for around 65% of demand for solar in Europe, with an expected 2.7 to 3.2 GW of solar installed over each of the next four quarters.

Demand from the rest of the world, primarily the U.S., Japan, Middle East and Southeast Asia, will range from 2.5 to 3.6 GW each quarter.

“Volatile demand swings will continue to hamper the growth of the solar PV industry over the next four quarters, with production and shipment schedules having to be adjusted each quarter,” said Barker.

“These effects will have the most profound impact on suppliers that rely upon China as the dominant end-market for shipments. Suppliers that are focused on Europe, Japan, and the US will see more stable quarterly demand trends, and will be able to plan production schedules with far greater visibility.”

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