Photovoltaics manufacturers feel the pinch of growing pains

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA, Nov. 19, 2003 — Worldwide shipments of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules surged by 52 percent in 2002, a new report from Strategies Unlimited reveals.

According to Photovoltaic Manufacturer Shipments & Profiles, 2001-2003, 2002 market the fourth consecutive year of PV shipments growth in excess of 30 percent. Shipments are expected to exceed 30 percent again in 2003, Strategies Unlimited estimates.

While most industries would envy this performance, such growth comes at a price. “PV manufacturers are scrambling to add manufacturing lines and build new plants to meet demand,” noted Neil Dunay, senior analyst at Strategies Unlimited. “This effort requires extraordinary capital investment.”

To keep up with demand, global PV manufacturing capacity will rise 35 percent in 2003 to more than one gigawatt peak (1,000 MWp). At least eight manufacturers have already detailed factory expansion plans for 2004.

Yet, revenues are not growing nearly as fast because prices are falling dramatically. Average cell and module prices fell 14 percent in 2002 to $2.91 per watt peak (Wp). The price declines result not only from improved manufacturing efficiencies but also from intensifying competition among global suppliers.

The most notable competition is coming from Japanese manufacturers. With a strong Japanese domestic support program for rooftop PV systems, shipments by Japanese manufacturers jumped 88 percent in 2002 and accounted for nearly half of the global market. Sharp Corporation of Japan emerged as (by far) the largest PV manufacturer in 2002, accounting for 21 percent of global PV shipments. Several major Japanese manufacturers have outlined plans for increasing market presence in the United States and Europe.

About Strategies Unlimited

Strategies Unlimited is a market research and management consulting firm that specializes in emerging compound semiconductor component technologies. The company regularly publishes reports on optoelectronic, photovoltaic, and RF/microwave electronic components and systems. The company has provided both custom and multiclient strategic studies on high-technology industries for more than two decades. Strategies Unlimited is a research division of PennWell Corporation.

With a 25-year history in photovoltaics market research, Strategies Unlimited is a provider of market data and thoughtful analysis to PV industry decision-makers. Using its historical data and supply- and demand-side analyses, Strategies Unlimited is uniquely positioned to offer a balanced view of the global PV market and a realistic direction for its growth.

About the Report

Photovoltaic Manufacturer Shipments & Profiles, 2001-2003 is a comprehensive resource for understanding the PV industry and its suppliers. The report covers the following subjects:

– Details of more than 39 global PV manufacturing facilities, with estimates of shipments (MWp), manufacturing capacity (MWp), and revenues ($) in 2001 and 2002.
– Historic overview and current year projection (1980-2003) of PV shipments, revenue, and manufacturing capacity, segmented by four geographic regions and four manufacturing technologies.
– Trend analysis (learning curve) of PV prices since 1980, extrapolated to 2010.
– Company profiles of the top ten manufacturing groups, including their shipments, capacity, and revenues, business history, product overview, and examples of recent projects.


Neil Dunay
Senior Analyst
Strategies Unlimited
One Richmond Square #303N
Providence, RI 02906
Tel: 401 243 8116

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