For the first time, the amount of solar photovoltaic modules manufactured across the world could break the 50 gigawatt barrier. That’s according to NPD Solarbuzz's PV Equipment Quarterly report, which predicts that PV production will rise 10 gigawatts higher than last year’s production of 39.7 GWs.
The report also found that the production of multicrystalline-silicon (c-Si) PV modules will dominate PV manufacturing in 2014. It states that p-type multi c-Si technology will likely account for 62 percent of all PV modules produced next year. “This is in line with the upgraded forecast from NPD Solarbuzz that end-market solar PV demand will reach 45-55 GW next year,” a spokesperson of the company said.
This growth will be driven largely by expanded production of multi crystalline PV manufacturing in China. It's anticipated that leading Chinese c-Si suppliers will continue to increase production of p-type multi c-Si products during 2014, restoring operating margins to pre-2012 levels.
“PV manufacturers continue to prioritize cost-reduction across the entire c-Si value-chain, with improvements in efficiency coming mainly from higher-quality multi c-Si wafers,” said Finlay Colville, Vice President at NPD Solarbuzz. ”While there will inevitably be short-term supply issues throughout the year, polysilicon and wafer supply is considered adequate for 45-50 GW of c-Si module shipments in 2014. Chinese cell and module suppliers will continue to operate a flexible manufacturing strategy, with new capacity expected to come online during 2H’14.”
Unfortunately, the Chinese approach is somewhat limiting to the industry. According to the report, China’s PV manufacturers are taking a wait-and-see approach towards next-generation technologies, as well as boosting production. This dual strategy will continue to be the major barrier to any common technology roadmap being implemented within the solar PV industry over the next two to three years.
Monocrystalline PV module production will also grow in 2014, NPD Solarbuzz stated. While production in the segment - which includes manufacturers like SunPower and Panasonic - is expected to grow by 2.8 gigawatts, the overall share of such modules will shrink from 29.6 percent of the market in 2013 to 29.3 percent in 2014. This increase in high-efficiency c-Si modules is being driven by space-constrained solar PV deployment, characterized by the booming Japanese end-market. Thin-film PV is set to shrink as well, falling to 8.9 percent of the market in 2014.