PV on the bounceback, says Lux

Sunnier times lie ahead for the depressed PV market, according to calculations by Lux Research suggesting that the sector will mushroom to be worth $155bn within five years.

A report from the Boston consultancy forecasts that the sector will expand to 35GW this year before ramping up towards 61.7GW by 2018 - a 10.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

“Manufacturers’ nightmare is turning into a long-term boon for the industry. Record low prices pushed gross margins to near zero or below, but they’ve made solar installations competitive in more markets,” says lead author Ed Cahill.

“Supply and demand will come back into balance in 2015, easing price pressure, returning manufacturers to profitability and restoring the industry to equilibrium.”

Lux used a detailed levelised cost of energy analysis in 156 geographies, accounting for 82% of the world’s population, to work out the commercial viability and competitiveness of each regional market.

Among its findings are that the US, with its 18% CAGR to 10.8GW of installations in 2018, will emerge as the world’s second-largest market, but be leapfrogged by China, which will grow by more than 15% a year to 12.4GW in the same period.

Utility-scale solar, the smallest segment last year at 8.6GW, will boom to 19.9GW in 2018 as developing markets turn to PV, according to Lux.

The report also notes that start-ups present opportunities to buy up intellectual property “at record low prices”, such as Hanergy’s $30m acquisition of module maker MiaSolé in 2012 after investors had pumped $500m into the firm.