PV: Aiming for 50GW in 2014? April 7, 2014Posted by Maury Markowitz in solar.
Tags: PV, solar power
Paula Mints’ superb article on PV shipments in 2013 has numerous tidbits for the interested reader. For myself, it was the predictions at the end that stood out.
Basically, Mints’ demonstrates how worldwide potential to build panels turns into actual panels. In 2013 there was about 41 GW worth of capacity which turned into about 34 GW of panels, a duty cycle of around 83%
If you trace that forward with known capacity expansions coming online in 2014, and combine that with the expected flows (similar to the graph above), that puts us on a trajectory for 49 GW in 2014. As Mints’ points out, however, there are a number of factors that make this unlikely, notably a slowdown in Europe.
That said, looking back over the last couple of years, the pattern is clear. When companies overproduce, fire sales follow, which sell into markets that were otherwise marginal. The market is essentially infinitely flexible, given the right price points. If this pattern continues, some significant fraction of that capacity will be used, and the worst-case outcome is additional price depreciation as the year goes on.
I never thought I’d see panels below $1 retail, but such is commonplace today. With MW-sized orders in the 50 to 60 cent range, one might go so far to predict retail prices down around there by end of year. Combined with the expected rapid decline in inverter prices due to new Chinese entrants this year, it seems we are well on our way to $1/W systems at the residential end of the scale.