Over the past 10 years, articles appearing in IHS iSuppli Market Watch have shaped opinions, defined issues and moved markets. The following article celebrates the 10-year anniversary of IHS iSuppli Market Watch, recapping some of the publication’s best articles over the last decade.Despite a slowdown in Photovoltaic (PV) installations globally in 2009, California is showing surprising strength, according to iSuppli Corp.
Data from the California Solar Initiative (CSI), which manages the incentive programs for most current PV project activity, indicates the state installed 68 Megawatts (MW) of PV systems in the first quarter alone. This represents a 260 percent increase from the same period in 2008 and 100 percent sequential growth compared to the fourth quarter of 2008. The first-quarter expansion is the state’s highest growth rate since CSI started tracking the information.
Not included in the data are large utility-scale projects from investor-owned PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, which are just beginning to be awarded.
This swift increase in the number of installations was mainly due to revisions passed last October by the U.S. Congress that allowed for a 30 percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for projects completed after Jan. 1, 2009. The ITC carried no limit on the project’s price.
This created a bit of an artificial inflation of the time that projects were finished. Those due to be completed at the end of 2008 were stretched into 2009 in order to qualify for the ITC.
Because of this, iSuppli forecasts second-quarter installations will cool down to the 45MW to 55MW range.
Battle for the Sun
As the Californian PV market heats up, solar cell manufacturers are facing a circumstance where consolidation is becoming a real issue.
The Top 4 players are getting larger while others are finding themselves on the short end of the stick. SunPower has expanded its lead in California to 24 percent market share in the first quarter of 2009, up from 21 percent in 2008. SunPower’s cell business has strong brand-name recognition, and being the No. 1 supplier in the state is causing business to trickle its way as well.
Meanwhile, Sharp continued to hold the No. 2 position in the state with 16 percent market share in the first quarter, up from 12 percent in 2008. But it was SolarWorld that accomplished the highest increase in share, with a contract win from Chevron and the San Jose Unified School District equaling about 2.4MW of installations in the first quarter. SolarWorld jumped to about 12 percent of market in the first quarter of 2009, up from just about 2 percent in 2008.
The biggest losers in the state were Evergreen, Kyocera, Sanyo and other smaller brands that have been unable to compete with the expansion of the larger companies.
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