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The Solar Impact on Semi – looking down the road a couple years


Global solar photovoltaic (PV) market numbers continue to hold in the positive range with 6% year-over-year (YoY) for 1Q10.  For the US market, the third largest in the world, the 2009 CAGR was in the 30% and looking forward, the five year growth forecast continues to be solid for the US, holding at the 30% CAGR annually.

Europe remains the dominant region, as the leader in solar demand and marketplaces the forecast is for continued strong growth, despite fluctuating legislation and rebates (e.g., Feed-in Tariffs (FIT), rebate structures, and regional economic concerns).

The Asia-Pacific (APAC) region extending out to India is also rising in demand and installation of solar PV.  With China having been named the world's top energy consumer this week, the spotlight on Chinese renewable installations is also in the fore.  With APAC regional versions of FIT set to come into play (e.g., Japanese incentives), and the new Chinese 125 plan increasing the country's renewable portfolio, growth is forecasted to be very strong.  Solarbuzz's estimate of 85% CAGR for 2010 was reported by EETimes here

At the heart of these strong global and regional growth figures is the demand forecasted to come from utilities (in the US, they will be driven to meet their Renewable Portfolio Standard obligations), coupled with increased residential and corporate demand to meet country and global requirements, as issued by Solarbuzz and presented by DisplaySearh here.

These growth figures are especially striking when looking into the 2010-2014 period, a timeframe in which semi growth is forecasted to normalize in the single digits and then move upward cyclically.  This creates an interesting intercept for semiconductor equipment manufacturers.  As reported earlier in the Spring here by EETimes, the ability of the solar PV market to put in demands for specifically designed equipment is gaining.  As reported in this EETimes release, SEMI forecasts "mid-range estimates for 2010 see a PV equipment and materials market of about $10.3 billion."

During the present already stressed equipment time for semi, the possibility of loosing traction with equipment manufacturers is worrisome.  However, there are two major impediments for PV that will keep equipment manufacturers more focused on semi, at least for now: 1) lack of standardization in the PV industry, and 2) an industry roadmap that would guide the technology path.

The two industries remain intertwined, and as solar PV matures, the relationship will continue to be important as each industry affects the other in important and changin ways.

Lisa Ann Cairns, Ph.D.
Written on Wednesday, 21 July 2010 19:02 by Lisa Ann Cairns, Ph.D.

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