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Solar Energy Costs to Achieve Grid Parity by 2013

June 29, 2010

The solar energy market has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past two years, driven by a new abundance of polysilicon, the effects of the worldwide financial crisis, and the plunging price of solar modules.  As a result of these factors, the solar industry has shifted from supply-constrained to demand-driven, and a few strong companies have been able to improve their revenues and market share based on a low cost per watt combined with high module efficiency.

According to a new report from Pike Research, this market realignment will set the stage for a new era of solar growth over the next several years, and the cleantech market intelligence firm anticipates that by 2013, in many markets, solar costs will reach the long-elusive goal of grid parity, the cost of electricity from traditional power sources.  Between 2010 and 2013, Pike Research forecasts that solar demand will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24%.

“Solar prices are plunging quickly, and lower pricing will fuel a surge in demand in 2010 and beyond,” says senior analyst Dave Cavanaugh.  “However, pricing trends and oversupply of solar modules will also place huge pressure on solar suppliers, especially Tier 2 and Tier 3 companies that are not well-equipped to weather the storm.  We expect a significant shakeout among solar suppliers in the next two years.”

Cavanaugh adds that 10 key factors will determine success and survival for solar suppliers during this period of industry consolidation:

  • Low-cost polysilicon and wafers
  • Low-cost process materials
  • Low-cost processing
  • Module efficiency
  • Economies of scale
  • Market presence in key growth countries
  • Supply chain integration
  • Strong balance sheets and internal financing of growth
  • Module manufacturing in North America and low-cost European Union countries
  • Strong position in niche markets

Pike Research’s report, “Global Solar Energy Outlook”, provides a comprehensive analysis of the supply and demand dynamics in the rapidly changing global solar market.  It examines the underlying economics of solar manufacturing and assesses the industry’s progress toward grid parity from a cost perspective.  The report includes a detailed analysis of key solar industry players and outlines the key differentiators that will cause some suppliers to thrive, and others to fall by the wayside.  An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.

Pike Research is a market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets.  The company’s research methodology combines supply-side industry analysis, end-user primary research and demand assessment, and deep examination of technology trends to provide a comprehensive view of the Smart Energy, Clean Transportation, Clean Industry, Corporate Sustainability, and Building Efficiency sectors.