According to the current development, EnergyTrend, TrendForce's green energy division expects 2012 to be the year for the global solar industry to face an arduous challenge and weed out the weak. The policies will focus on the total installation volume control and decreasing subsidies. Additionally, policies for the emerging markets have been mapped out, but it will require some time for them to take effect. On the other hand, the spot prices from wafers to modules remain low, and the slim margin has caused most manufacturers to hang by a thread.
Based on EnergyTrend’s estimate, the 2011 global solar installation capacity will reach 19GW, but the overall inventory amount, including semi-finished and finished products, will reach as high as 10GW. Therefore, the market is still severely oversupplied. EnergyTrend forecasts that the demand in the solar market will amount to approximately 19GW for 2012; the stagnant demand is due to the decreasing demand in Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom, which are caused by the subsidy policies changes in Europe. As for the Asian markets, benefiting from the subsidy policies, China, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand will see slight demand surges in 2012. EnergyTrend expects no rapid growth for the solar market until 2013. On the other hand, despite the hype that the North American and Indian markets have been generating, their outlooks remain uncertain. In regard to the North American market, the Cash Grant program is set to expire at the end of 2011 and the new Federal Tax Credits will fill the vacancy in 2012. However, EnergyTrend believes that the growth momentum for Federal Tax Credits are able to bring to the market is minimal, which will add uncertainty to the American market in 2012. As for the Indian market, although the National Solar Mission drives up solar demand, the government’s efficiency and financial health together with the enforcement of the Local Content Requirement policy may dampen the bright prospects in the Indian solar market.
Furthermore, the prices of midstream products are now in a severe downtrend, which greatly handicaps the related manufacturers. According to the Levelized Cost Of Energy (LCOE) analysis, the system costs incorporate module costs, BoS (Balance of System) costs and system operating performance. In terms of module costs, EnergyTrend believes that as the capacity of polysilicon increases, the module costs will revert to a healthy level, although the price downtrend is expected to cease for the time being. As for BoS costs, compared to module costs which reflect the current market conditions, prices of products such as the solar inverters and EPC remain stable. Therefore, the cost adjustment in the future will mainly depend on BoS costs. Aside from the cost adjustment, the enhancement of system efficiency is another pressing issue for the manufacturers, which results in the increasing demand for high-efficiency products. As for the future of the solar market, EnergyTrend believes that N-type Mono/Mono-Like products and technologies will play an integral role.
EnergyTrend indicates that affected by the changes in prices, market dynamics and technology, 2012 is the year for the forerunners in the global solar industry to secure their leading positions. It means that manufacturers which are not able to attain price or technology competitiveness will be merged or run out of business. Only those who survive the fierce competition can benefit from the rebound of the solar market.