Japan, UK drive Q1 PV installations

More than 9GW of PV capacity was installed globally during the first quarter of the year on the back of fiery demand in Japan and the UK, setting the stage for a new era of profitable growth, says NPD Solarbuzz.

For reasons related to weather and the structure of most feed-in tariff systems, the first quarter is typically the weakest for global PV installations, but it offers a reliable indication for how the year ahead will play out.

The industry added 35% more capacity during the first quarter of 2014 than it did during the same period last year, and it will likely break its previous records in every quarter this year, Solarbuzz says.

Japan and the UK -- both of whose core support systems undergo their annual re-set in April -- drove the record performance in the first quarter, collectively accounting for more than one-third of global demand.

NPD Solarbuzz, which previously forecast 49GW of annual installations in 2014, says that after the first quarter it appears the industry “will indeed reach and possibly even surpass” that figure.

Between the second quarter of 2014 and the end of first-quarter 2015, the industry appears set to install more than 50GW -- the first time it will crack that momentous figure during a 12-month period.

“During the past few years, the solar PV industry has been waiting for end-market demand to catch up with the excess manufacturing capacity added between 2010-12,” says NPD Solarbuzz vice president Finlay Colville.“This wait is now coming to an end.”

With the industry coming “much closer to rational supply and demand levels”, suppliers can start shifting their focus from “short-term tactical survival to long-term strategic planning”, Colville adds.