Thursday, August 19, 2010

PV supply chain, costs face changes in Q3

Photovoltaic module production costs are going down, but raw materials costs are rising. What does this mean for the solar module sector, which encompasses the silicon or thin film PV panel and external components like the inverter? Photovoltaics World's top article this week deals with changes in the solar module landscape.

In his article, "What's happening with PV module costs, pricing?" IMS Research analyst Sam Wilkinson says higher materials costs, particularly for Si photovoltaic wafers, are to be expected in Q3 2010. "That will give some advantage back to thin-film PV players (like First Solar) and slow the Si PV cost-reduction slide, at least temporarily."

Wilkinson also states that factory-gate selling prices are declining, though exchange-rate differences eliminate this effect at the end of the supply chain.

The point about Europe in this article -- Europe accounted for 82% of PV installations in 2Q10 -- stands in stark contrast to "traditional" building materials trends. Holcim, major cement supplier, blamed weakness in the European market for much of its stock decline and weak sales (Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that Holcim dropped the most it has since March 30, 2009.)

Companies mentionned in Wilkinson's article include First Solar (FSLR: Mixed results, cost/W takes another dive, 2009 modules: First Solar tops, Japan flops) and Solarfun (Chinese Solarfun finds new distributor in Japan, Solarfun sees strategic investment from Hanwha Chemical).

Read What's happening with PV module costs, pricing? here.

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