Italian policy to impact on solar power demand

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 - Page 12

Global solar energy demand is expected to be lower than predicted this quarter because of a potential shift in solar policy in Italy and less demand in Japan following the massive earthquake last week, TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said yesterday.

Extending a previous downtrend, the price of solar cells and modules fell 3.46 percent and 1.7 percent to US$1.23 per watt and to US$1.62 per watt respectively this week from last week on weakening demand, following abrupt changes in green energy policy in Italy recently, according to the survey by TrendForce. No comparative figures were provided.

Italy might cut green energy subsidies and even put a new limit on solar system installations because of the country’s worsening debts and deficits, the Taipei-based research house said.

Last year, Italy accounted for 21 percent of overall global solar panel installation of 18.2 gigawatts, making it the world’s second-biggest solar market after Germany, according to another researcher Solarbuzz’s latest report yesterday.

In Japan, TrendForce expected no significant damage to solar cell manufacturing facilities as most plants were located far from the quake-stricken area. However, the research house said the government could shift its financial support to earthquake reconstruction efforts from solar subsidies.

“We are concerned about an obvious decrease in demand in the Japanese market,” TrendForce said in the report.

Demand in Japan is expected to be lower than the 360 megawatts TrendForce projected previously, the researcher said.

With the European and Japanese markets turning bearish, “TrendForce believes that the worldwide solar energy demand in the second quarter of 2011 might be lower than expected,” it said.

The price of key raw materials for manufacturing solar cells was on the rise. This week, the price increased 0.51 percent to US$78.5 per kilogram from last week, adding to the price pressure on solar cell makers, according to TrendForce.

Japan was one of the world’s fastest growing areas in adopting solar energy last year. It took a 5 percent share of the market, with solar panel installation growing 100 percent, according to the tally provided by Solarbuzz.

Germany, Italy, Japan and Czech Republic and US represented 80 percent of the world’s solar demand, the California-based solar energy consultancy said.

Separately, Motech Industries Inc (茂迪), the nation’s biggest solar cell maker, yesterday said it has inked a US$281 million supply contract with South Korean company OCI Co Ltd to supply polysilicon over an eight-year period from this week through the end of 2018.

Motech planned to expand its annual capacity by 50 percent to 1.8 gigawatts by the end of this year from 1.2 gigawatts last year.

Motech said the purchase aimed to secure sufficient raw materials for production.

Last week, Taiwan’s top solar wafer maker Green Energy Technology Inc (綠能科技) and its smaller rival Danen Technology Corp (達能) also said they had signed seven-year supply contracts with OCI for US$507 million and US$161 million respectively.

Meanwhile, Neo Solar Power Corp (新日光能源) said yesterday it signed a seven-year supply agreement to purchase materials from a South Korean company, without naming names, a stock exchange filing showed.