July 18, 2008

Greentech Media

U.S. Solar Could Surpass German Market by 2011

The U.S. will overtake Germany as the largest solar market in 2011, a recent JP Morgan report suggests.According to a chart in the June report, which in turn cited Marketbuzz and Wall Street research, the U.S. market is projected to grow from an estimated 617 megawatts of new photovoltaic installations this year to 617 megawatts in 2009, 1.02 gigawatts (thousands of megawatts) in 2010 and 1.63 gigawatts in 2011.Meanwhile, another chart - this one citing Solarbuzz, Navigant Consulting, Greentech Media's PV News and China's Renewable Energy Development Project progress report - forecasts that the German market will grow 6 percent from 1.28 gigawatts of capacity in 2008 to 1.35 gigawatts in 2012.But in spite of slower growth than other countries, JP Morgan expects Germany - by far the largest solar market today - to remain one of the world's largest markets in 2012.According to the chart, which Calisolar CEO Roy Johnson included in a presentation at Intersolar this week, South Korea will be the third-largest market at 957 megawatts. And even separated out from its country, California alone could be counted as the fourth-largest market, as it is expected to reach 920 megawatts."It's got roughly half the population of Germany, twice the incident sunlight and about one-tenth the market of Germany [today]," Johnson said of California.The JP Morgan chart projects that the fastest-growing markets in the next four years will be Greece, expected to grow 135 percent, followed by South Korea expected to grow 89 percent, and then Italy, which is expected to grow 65 percent.In spite of faster growth, Italy's market will be smaller than that of Spain in 2012, according to the chart, which shows Italy at 404 megawatts and Spain at 450 megawatts.The Spanish solar market has taken off, due to a generous incentive program. But the program is set to expire in September, causing industry-wide uncertainty about whether the new program will continue to strongly support solar installations (see Solar Firms Struggle to Forecast 2009).Reuters reported Thursday that the Spanish government plans to ask the country's national energy commission to limit new solar subsidies to a capacity of 300 megawatts a year, compared with a current cap of 1.2 gigawatts. The news comes after Spanish newspaper Cinco Dias reported a plan to cut subsidies by up the 35 percent, in addition to the lower cap, earlier this month (see Spain Could Reduce Solar Subsidies by 35%).A solar association, the Photovoltaic Business Association, has lobbied to keep the current incentives intact, and another proposal in April advocated raising the cap to 2.26 gigawatts (see Spain Considers Adding a Solar Gigawatt and Spanish Solar Group: Don't Change Feed-In Tariffs)."We considered multiple term sheets, but the partners at ATV were very operational. We've never taken a company public, and wanted to work with a team that had done that. While valuation was obviously a factor, we like the strategic value ATV brings to the table."-Scot Wingo, CEO, ChannelAdvisor