PHOTON Consulting’s Solar Annual 2009: Total Eclipse

Will German PV (Photovoltaic) installs still hit 3.85 GW (GigaWatts) in 2009?
Will a period of rapid, profitable growth be followed by saturation of one or more key PV markets in 2013, a Total Eclipse?

PHOTONConsultingSA09TotalEclipse PHOTON Consulting LLC released Solar Annual 2009: Total Eclipse (SA09) back in October 2009. While I received a review copy before “PHOTON Consulting projects global PV installations will more than double in 2010, expects price crash by 2013”, I only started reading the 260 page SA09 tome cover to cover over the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

For the impatient, I recommend reading the Full Summary and spending 35-40 minutes to Watch the replay of Solar Annual 2009: Total Eclipse webinar after entering your name and email address. One question answered in the webinar is:

How does the installation curve in 2009 for Germany compare to 2008? Germany’s first and second quarters are notorious to be slow.

My approach in reviewing SA09 is to share impressions or thoughts without giving away all the data or the insights much like a movie review.

As I posted before:

PHOTON Consulting had to revise their bullish 2009 forecast (please see PHOTON’s 7th Solar Silicon Conference) downward to 8.6 GW per “No way at mid-way” in the PHOTON International August 2009 issue (PI 8/2009, p.72-80). Though perhaps overestimated at the original 4 GW, PHOTON Consulting identified the monstrous German 2009 PV demand trend early.

Well, if “Photon Magazine survey puts German PV installations as high as 4GW” by Mark Osborne at does happen in 2009, I’ll wager the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) or Feed-in Tariff (FiT) will be revised by the second half of 2010.

As stated more than once in SA09: Overall, predicting the future is an “impossible art.” Impossible or not, the SA09 projection for 2010 PV demand can also be described as almost tripling from the 8.6 GW 2009 forecast. The 2011 PV demand number is leaked in “Utilities Poised to Brighten U.S. Solar Market” by Jennifer Kho at Earth2Tech.

What about solar silicon? My PV market tagline for 2009 is “Crystalline Silicon Strikes Back” as even First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) felt the heat from tumbling silicon PV module prices. Over the past month, I’ve noticed renewed interest in blog posts about solar silicon:

PHOTON’s 7th Solar Silicon Conference
PHOTON’s 7th Solar Silicon Conference – Part 2

Solar Polysilicon Oversupply until 2013?

After flubbing the 2009 spot silicon price forecast at the 7th Solar Silicon Conference, PHOTON Consulting’s SA09 silicon supply, contract, and spot pricing appear rational to me in relation to their demand and production estimates. However, if you believe the aggressive SA09 PV demand forecast, solar silicon supply appears to return to balance before 2013.

What burning questions will SA09 help answer? Here’s my short list:

Will the PV market grow faster in Japan or California?
Why are PV manufacturers continuing to invest in capacity expansions?
Will First Solar be challenged by a thin film rival?
Will thin film PV grow to over 30 percent market share by 2013?
Why did MEMC acquire SunEdison?
Is SMA a “Solar CISCO”?
How and which companies are positioned to survive and thrive in a Total Eclipse Saturation scenario?
Why are Yingli Green Energy and Trina Solar only watch list companies and not “Bright spots”?

GermanPVinstallsbystateSep2009 When I looked for German Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency) updates to “German market is hot, but how hot?” again by Mark Osborne for, I found the EEG related PV system registrations are only updated quarterly. However, the German map of 2009 PV installations by state was of interest. Could the German states of Bavaria (Bayern) or Baden-Württemberg saturate even before the German PV market does?

Whether you love, hate, agree or disagree with PHOTON Consulting’s aggressive and at times controversial photovoltaic market research, it remains the benchmark reference for companies and individuals participating in the global solar value chain. Competing PV market research is trying harder to offer unique and accurate insight racing for second or third place.

(Full disclosure: I was provided a copy of the SA09 report by PHOTON Consulting with the hope I would comment or write a review. The opinions expressed in the post are my own, and I have not been paid to write them. I do own some shares of FSLR stock though.)


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