By Roy L Hales
The latest Bloomberg prediction is that the solar industry will grow more than 20% in 2014. After consulting with “some of the world’s most knowledgeable and respected solar analysts” – Deustche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings Plc, Citigroup Inc., Yingli, NPD Solarbuzz,. Wacker Chemie AG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP – Bloomberg suggests there will be around 44.5 GW installed. That is only a little less than the 46 GW suggested by the Deutsche Bank. The big story, from 2013, is the change of leadership amongst the World’s solar powers.
After dominating the industry for more than six years, Germany is expected to install a mere 3.3 GW this year. Instead of incentives, the owners of clean energy plants may soon be paying a 4.4 euro cents (6 cents) a kilowatt-hour tax.
That could turn potential customers away, because according to an article in the Guardian, “the cost of solar power in Germany is about Euro cents 10 per kilowatt hour, compared with about 6 to 8 Euro cents per kilowatt hour for “brown” coal – the most carbon-intensive form of the fuel, but also the cheapest – and gas.”
While Europe’s solar market appears to be slowing down, the rest of the World is expanding.
“After two years of a punishing downturn, the global solar industry is on the rebound,” said Ash Sharma, senior research director for solar at Englewood, Colorado-based IHS Inc. (IHS:US) “Worldwide PV installations are set to rise by double digits in 2014, solar manufacturing capital spending is recovering, module prices are stabilizing and emerging markets are on the rise.”
The emergence of China, as the world’s leading solar market, contributed to this resurgence. Companies like Sunpower Corp and Yingli are now making a profit. The Chinese may have installed close to 12 GW last year and are expected to do as well in 2014.
Japan, the first nation the one GW barrier (in 2004), is now the world’s second largest solar installer and may reach 10.5 GW.
The US is expected to install 5 to 6 GW, which will make it third.
Brazil, Chile, Thailand and Australia have also made significant progress, albeit on a lesser scale.
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