Overheard at Intersolar Europe 2012 0

Intersolar Europe was upon us again last week in Munich, and GTM Research was there. Here are some highlights (and lowlights) from the show:

German Market

Despite proclamations to the contrary, the German downstream market is still alive and well. While only 650 megawatts were installed in January and February (typical for Germany), preliminary results from the BSW indicated deployment of 1.15 gigawatts in March, largely due to pull-in effects of an expected April feed-in tariff cut, which was subsequently delayed. Q2 installation run-rates are proceeding at a healthy clip, in large part due to the deployment of “grandfathered” ground-mounted projects under the pre-April 1 feed-in tariff regime. GTM Research is currently estimating 2012 installations in Germany to come in at around 6.5 gigawatts, compared to 7.5 gigawatts in 2011. As always, forecast risk with Germany remains firmly on the upside. Two other key stats: PV penetration in Germany is up to 4 percent  of total generation, and average system prices in Q2 2012 were estimated at EUR 1.776/Wp, or $2.24/Wp at current FX rates. Since Germany is dominated by rooftop systems (72 percent of installations in 2011), this is an impressively low number. Assuming a module price of around $0.90/Wp, this implies an average BOS cost of $1.34/Wp.

Other European Markets

Romania and Bulgaria are receiving a lot of attention from module suppliers at the moment, with large numbers of megawatts going into the ground as we speak. It remains to be seen whether these are sustainable markets, positioned for long-term growth, or boom-and-bust plays like the Czech Republic in 2010.

Grid Parity Business Models in Spain

Multiple sources indicated that systems are currently being installed in Spain without the support of the feed-in tariff. Yingli, for example, talked about a 300-megawatt (!) project that would begin installation at the beginning of 2013. In terms of absolute megawatts, one expects the overall numbers of FIT-less deployments to be quite small, but this is still highly encouraging news.

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