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What's happening around the world in the solar industry and how it might affect you

PV Sales Rise to Record Heights of 9 Gigawatts in Third Quarter

A rooftop solar installation

A rooftop solar installationThere’s a lot of good news for the solar industry in the latest NPD Solarbuzz Quarterly Report. That extends well beyond the record 9 gigawatts of PV demand for the quarter, which is 20 percent higher than last year’s quarter and an all time record. The manufacturing side of PV is showing stability as well and more record growth is expected in the fourth quarter, the report found.


“Mid-year global solar PV demand grows to a record level of 17 GW with trade-war uncertainties having a minimal impact on continued end-market growth,” the report stated. The report found that both the second quarter and third quarter periods were record-breakers in terms of solar sales. The second quarter of 2013 beat 2011‘s record. Although the end-market demand for solar was up 20 percent over last year’s third quarter ,it was only up 6 percent over this year’s second quarter. So far this year, both the second and third quarters have broken records.

“This mid-year surge in new installations is almost 3 GW more than the solar PV industry has ever achieved in the past,” said a spokesperson from NPD.

“The record levels of mid-year demand in 2013 have been critical to the overall recovery of the solar PV sector,” stated Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. As such, the demand—as well as moves by PV manufacturers to reduce stock—have helped stabilize the price of photovoltaics.

The average module selling price for PV declined only 1 percent during the third quarter.  That’s compared to a 12 percent price decline during last year’s second and third quarters. “Combined with strong industry demand this year, end-market revenues have increased for three consecutive quarters and exceeded $13 billion during Q3’13.”

“Restored confidence in end-market growth is allowing leading solar PV manufacturers to pursue aggressive shipment strategies within both established and emerging territories, despite previous concerns that trade wars could dampen growth,” Barker explained.

With the high demand for solar, NPD is projecting an even busier fourth quarter of 2013. “Demand is forecast to grow to 10 GW to 12 GW, with the characteristic year-end surge coming from China and the U.S., accounting for 50 percent of global demand during the quarter,” NPD added.

The company anticipates that global overall PV demand for 2014 will be between 45 and 55 gigawatts. The Asian market, led by China and Japan, is projected to account for 40 to 45 percent of demand in 2013.

The price drops in PV, however, have been so significant that even though 2013 will likely be a record-breaker, revenues will be down in comparison to the $92 billion in 2011 when prices were between 20 percent and 57 percent higher. It's anticipated that full-year 2013 revenues will be in the range of $65 billion to $75 billion.

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