Navigant Consulting’s Photovoltaic Demand 2011 and Beyond

2011 Global Photovoltaic (PV) Forecast of 17 to 20 GW (GigaWatt).
2011 US PV Forecast between 1.5 and 2 GW.

Kicking off the Vote Solar ‘Get Some Sun’ Webinar Series last week, Navigant Consulting, Inc. (NYSE:NCI) Director, Energy, and Principal Analyst Paula Mints presented “Global PV Demand 2011 and Beyond”.

Per the Global Forecast to 2014 slide shown below, Navigant estimates 2010 shipments of 16.1 GW while estimated installations are a bit lower. Ms. Mints said: “My forecast right now is in flux because I‘m not done counting 2010.


Where can you put this stuff (again)?
For the worldwide PV forecast, Ms. Mints said: “2011 is somewhere between 17 GW and 20 GW. In 2012, it starts to be a more problematic vision for me so I’m going to be spending a lot of time looking at that going forward.” The 2011 range is consistent with the Conservative and Accelerated demand forecasts of 17.3 GW and 19.1 GW respectively.

NavigantUSForecast01122011 Paula Mints said: “The US, I do see moving into accelerated mode, that means it is becoming the market of interest.” Observing the US is “a relatively stable market”, the 2011 US forecast should be between 1.5 GW and 2 GW with a strong growth prognosis.

Mentioning CSP (Concentrating Solar Power) and CPV (Concentrator PhotoVoltaics), Paula Mints said:

I’m starting to also factor into my forecast all solar technologies. So this is not going to be all PV at the end.

As incentives decline, Ms. Mints said:

When Incentives are set more by an Auction process, which naturally leads towards lower margins, by the way no matter what anybody says, you are going to find that competition is going to get even more strident between the solar technologies.

The Vote Solar Blog post “Webinar: Paula Mints on Global PV Demand in 2011 and Beyond” has links to the webinar recording, presentation, and captures the Questions and Answer session afterwards.

Market Research
Earlier in the presentation, Paul Mints said:

Market research should be a living thing; it shouldn’t be set in stone. You should always be doing research or have a team doing research on specific things and not cross research, by the way, you can’t have two people counting the same thing cause you’ll end up double counting. But essentially you should always be watching the market, and you should be willing to change when the market forces change.

Eureka! This captured my thinking in the fourth quarter of 2009 when I wrote two Blog posts about the evolving PV market in the second half of the year.

EU PVSEC: iSuppli 2009 Photovoltaic Forecast Wrong
Navigant Consulting’s Bearish 2009 Photovoltaic Backcast

As can be seen in the Picasa slideshow of Navigant forecasts below, the Navigant 2009 PV shipments were raised to 6.039 GW in February 2010 and settled at 7.913 GW by July 2010.

I don’t take issue with forecast updates being required to keep up with rapid developments in the dynamic PV market. However, I do expect forecasts to be updated when market dynamics change and an inflection point occurs. Over the past year, I observed Navigant, Solarbuzz, iSuppli and IMS Research have all modified their 2010 PV forecasts at various times.

The renewed German PV Feed-in Tariff Frenzy is one such market dynamic. More Solar Subsidy Cuts on Deck in Germany” by Eric Rosenbaum at the discusses the variable Feed-in Tariff (FiT) proposal being considered in Germany that adjusts the degression again mid 2011 based on PV installations between March and May.


  1. ECD Fan says:

    I used to rely on Navigant’s data (particularly, the historical market share of thin film), but now I am having second thoughts. In response to my webinar request to name a profitable thin-film module maker (other than First Solar), Ms. Mints came up with “Uni-Solar has managed to keep its head above water,” which is outrageous, as Unisolar lost $375 million in just one quarter last year (on revenues of $66 million in that quarter), and, obviously, cannot be profitable as it tries to sell 6%-7% efficient modules that cost more than $1.50 per Watt to make (when 14% efficient modules are made for less than $1.10 per Watt).

  2. Paula has done lots of great work. Historically, she was often the source of less optimistic forecasts than her peers. Forecasting is a rough science, though, especially in solar. When Paula signals upside, that is a good sign.

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