2011 Looks Bright for Solar Energy


A report just out from IMS Research estimates that new Solar PV installations grew by a stellar 130% to reach 17.5 GW in 2010, confirming the firm’s earlier prediction back in Q3’10 that newly added global capacity would hit 17 GW. Furthermore, the report predicts that installations will see double-digit growth in 2011, to reach 20.5 GW and take the total installed capacity to 58 GW by the end of the year.

Despite other market forecasters revising predictions for 2010, IMS Research has in fact left its estimates for 2010 largely unchanged from its previous prediction two quarters ago, but has raised its outlook for 2011 following its latest round of research and surveys, which identified that at least 22 countries will each install more than 50 MW this year; 18 of them will install at least 100 MW; and 4 at least 1 GW. Reduction in demand in Germany and the Czech Republic will restrain global growth in 2011, but will speed PV component price reduction and help to accelerate growth elsewhere.

New installations of 17 GW is somewhat higher than most analysts, banks, and major suppliers estimated for 2010; however, IMS Research believes most of the discrepancy can be attributed to Italy; where many others expecting only around 1 GW to have been installed. IMS Research is certainly more bullish than most on installations in Italy last year; and estimates that new capacity was in fact closer to 3 GW, based on its extensive research of the supply chain and system developers. The actual figure will not be confirmed for least another quarter, whilst regulators deal with the tens of thousands of grid-connection applications received in the final months of the year.

IMS Research’s PV research director, Ash Sharma confirmed these results and the positive forecast for this year, “20 GW is a huge number for 2011, and would be a tremendous achievement, which I’m sure most would have thought impossible just two or three years ago. Having measured the PV supply chain at several points, our PV analyst team remains very upbeat about the market’s development this year; and even more so about the next two to three years. Our latest models predict installations of 35 GW in 2014 which certainly now looks achievable.”

Because of the decline in new installations in Germany and the Czech Republic, IMS Research predicts EMEA’s share of installations will fall from 81% in 2010 to 68% in 2011, despite high growth still being seen in many large markets such as Italy, as well as in emerging countries like the UK, Greece and Bulgaria. The recent report from IMS Research, which identified its top five PV growth markets for 2011, revealed that only one of these is in Europe; three are in Asia, compounding Europe’s decline in share.

As well as large regional variations, the report also predicts that PV demand will vary considerably by installation size, with utility-scale systems over 5 MW forecast to grow by nearly 50% in 2011, whilst installations between 10 and 100kW expected to stay flat – largely because of the situation in Germany.

IMS Research’s long-term outlook for the industry remains encouraging, with demand diversifying outside the ‘usual’ two or three key countries and predicts that at least 34 countries will install more than 100 MW in 2015, up from just 13 last year.