2014 Three Major Trends of PV Energy – High-Efficiency Cell, Energy-Storage System, and Acquisition

published: 2013-12-13 11:47 | editor: | category: Analysis

Demand from China, Japan, and USA will represent about 50% of the total worldwide market share in 2014. Due to the recovery of the European market and the rise of the emerging markets, supply and demand in the PV industry will be able to achieve equilibrium. EnergyTrend research manager, Jason Huang, points out the three major trends within the PV industry, which are high-efficiency products, energy-storage systems, and merge and acquisitions.

High-efficiency products become the mainstream; target efficiency for multi-si cell is 18% by the end of 2014

Although many manufacturers have started to come up with new PV technology, crystalline silicon products remain the mainstream in the overall market. Among all, multi-si products are the most popular ones because they have excellent quality, reasonable price, and simpler power plant design and inverter specifications.

Since 2013, module wattage has increased from 240 to 250. Multi-si cells with efficiency of 17.2%~17.6% are cells that are mostly used. Follow the increased use of high-efficiency cells, downstream developers hope to acquire modules with higher wattage. It’s projected that cell efficiency will rise to 17.6%~17.8% in the first half of 2014. While 60 pieces of cells’ module is equivalent to 250/255W, 72 pieces of cells’ module is equivalent to 300/305W. By the end of 2014, mainstream will be products above 255/305W with efficiency of 17.8%~18%.

With energy-storage product demand turning stronger, selling it with PV system as a set will be critical to the next market development

Most of the countries switch their PV development focus to self-consumption or peak-electricity usage adjustment because subsidies have been cut or even cancelled in different regions. Meanwhile, residential systems have become more popular as the development of large-scale power plants starts to slow down in certain countries. Hence, energy-storage systems will definitely be another trend follows PV systems. In addition to lowering PV cost, energy-storage subsidy plans provided in Germany and Japan will bring new targets to the market.

EnergyTrend believes that it’s less possible to sell energy-storage systems alone. Instead, it’s more likely to sell them with PV systems as a set from PV manufacturers. As for Chinese manufacturers with the largest amount of module export, selling energy-storage systems with PV systems seems to be the best way for them to do business in Europe after signing the agreement of minimum price and volume limit with EU. For now, energy-storage volume in combination with residential systems is about 3kWh~7kWh. In fact, adding an energy-storage system may double the cost, however, with the support of subsidy and decreased battery price, cost for PV systems with energy storage may only be 1.3~1.7 times the original PV system price in 2014. The development for energy-storage systems may reach the next level as the market expands and electricity price continues to go up.

Merge and acquisition; where will new entrants appear?

Merge and acquisition has been the focus in 2013. In China, LDK handed over their equity to Tongwei and Shunfeng acquired Suntech. In the overseas markets, Solarworld took over Bosch Solar and Astronergy bought Conergy’s module factory. Yet, the companies being acquired have cried out for help a long time ago. None of the companies with high market shares decided to start a joint venture. Due to the increased demand in the market, companies have begun to set the sales target for next year. Furthermore, downstream development trend shows that  industrial concentration will become more obvious in 2014.

Huang indicates that what’s worth observing in 2014 is to see if there are companies that choose to exit from the market before completely waning because this is where market share will be affected substantially. With PV cost continuously declining, many large oil and grid companies begin to take PV energy into consideration once again. In 2014, there will be more energy companies re-allocating PV energy into their energy development roadmap and what PV companies have to do is to clarify who is the player with the most chips in the future energy market.

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