19 August 2010


First Solar

Elections in November could have serious impact on US market growth

1. What are your expectations for the Global PV market by 2013? (in terms of MW/year)

I expect a market of 9.6-GWp in case of a reduced incentive scenario, and 15.3-GWp in the case of conservative growth (slowing after accelerated growth through 2011). If there is continued accelerated growth, it will be possible to reach a market of 33-GWp. This includes shipments to the first point of sale in the market, and classic market research where supply and demand equal each other – basically, what was sold and what was bought. Installations are lower, production slightly higher and capacity highest.

2. What do you expect to happen in Germany (with respect to demand) this and next year? Do you think demand will slow down if the tariff is reduced or will even increase further because of further expected adjustments....?

I think that everyone fundamentally agrees that 2010 will be a strong year. I see continued strong growth in 2011 (slightly down because Italy will consume quite high levels) but, essentially, the market is constrained by margins rather than dead.

3. What module price development do you expect next year? Will the ASP for c-Si modules hit €1/Wp in 2011?

I think that the ASP (average selling price) will level off this year. Margins remain constrained. It will be the manufacturers out in China and Taiwan that lead the way in this regard. Thin-film manufacturer First Solar is able to compete because of its low cost manufacturing structure, but it will be tough on other thin-film manufacturers.

4. What do you expect to become the major markets by 2013? Do you expect market demand to shift from European domination towards Asia and the USA in the next three years?

No, I do not expect a rapid shift in domination to the U.S. – Japan will continue to be strong as long as the FiT (feed-in tariff) is in place; Ontario will continue growing (the transmission provides a constraint there, and there may be more changes to the FiT), the U.S. is a complicated market and will continue growing, but does not have the structure to experience the boom that Europe has. We also need to watch the November elections because a change in party in Congress (from Democratic to Republican) along the passing of Proposition 23 in California and a Republican governor could make things tighter in the U.S.

5.    What could be the potential impact on the industry and market if the Spanish government retroactively adjusts the feed-in tariffs for existing PV power plants?

I believe that this may already be settled  – they are not going to do it. If they did, it would be a disaster as it would insert new risk into the market and investors (multi-megawatt installations) would be very reluctant. A probable outcome of this reluctance would be to pass the risk back to the already margin-constrained EPC and systems integrators and from there back to the technology manufacturers.

6.    What do you see as the most important market segments for the near future: residential, commercial, or utility-scale projects?

All of them! We need a mix. After all, PV is the most widely distributed technology of all renewables – at least currently. There are many creative ways to get the technology back on the roof than the industry has had the bandwidth to explore.

7.    What are your expectations for the US PV market? Will utility scale projects start to make a difference in 2011? And will other States take off or will California still dominate over the next years?

If the ITC grant is not extended, and if the US goes into double dip recession, the forecast is not so good. The US is growing more slowly and this is a good thing. California will continue to dominate for some time.

8.    How can solar PV compete with concentrated solar power plants in utility-scale PV projects in potential markets such as the USA, India, China, and elsewhere?

Well, affordable, reliable storage would help – but, if it is cheaper, flat plate will win.



Paula Mints will be one of the high-level speakers at the Fourth Global Demand Conference on September 6-7 in Valencia, Spain, during the week of the PVSEC. For more information on the Fourth Global Demand Conference, please visit

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