Global solar off to a sunny start in 2014

First quarter data showed global solar PV installations were up 35% on last year, with the industry now poised to exceed 50 GW this year.

NPD Solarbuzz

New global solar photovoltaic demand added during the first quarter of 2014 exceeded 9 GW, which was 35 per cent more than the previous first-quarter record, set last year.

In fact, every quarter in 2014 is forecast to reach new highs, with trailing 12-month demand at the end of the first quarter next year forecast to exceed 50 GW for the first time, according to findings in the latest NPD Solarbuzz Quarterly report.

The record level of demand achieved in the first quarter was driven by strong growth in Japan and the United Kingdom. These two countries combined accounted for more than one-third of global solar PV demand in the quarter and set new quarterly records for PV deployed.

“This is the fifth straight year that a quarterly record has been set at the start of the year,” said Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz.

“While demand during the first quarter typically sets the low point for the year, deployment levels during this quarter provide an excellent means of benchmarking demand for the rest of the coming year.”

Solar PV demand during the first quarter typically accounts for up to 20 per cent of annual demand. For example, the first quarter of 2013 saw demand for nearly 7 GW and was followed by full-year demand above 37 GW.

“Purely on a pro-rata basis, Q1’14 provides strong confidence that 2014 solar PV demand will indeed reach, and possibly even surpass, the NPD Solarbuzz full-year forecast of 49 GW in 2014,” Barker noted.

With the 2014 first quarter now closed, the trailing 12-month demand suggests that the true size of the industry today is almost 40 GW. By the end of the first quarter, the PV industry will likely break through the pivotal 50 GW barrier, bringing the industry much closer to rational supply and demand levels.

Trailing 12-month solar PV demand

Graph for Global solar off to a sunny start in 2014

Source: NPD Solarbuzz Quarterly report, March 2014

“During the past few years, the solar PV industry has been waiting for end-market demand to catch up with the excess manufacturing capacity added between 2010 and 2012,” added Finlay Colville, vice-president of NPD Solarbuzz.

“This wait is now coming to an end. As annual demand approaches the 50 GW level, suppliers will finally be able to shift their focus from short-term tactical survival to long-term strategic planning.”

Originally published on NPD Solarbuzz. Reproduced with permission.

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