The glut of solar panels has grown to about 10 gigawatts, or 60 percent of installations last year, cutting prices to levels even the lowest-cost producers in China are unable to sustain, India’s second-biggest cell maker said.
“There’s huge inventory worldwide, about 10 gigawatts,” driving panel prices to below $1 a watt, K.N. Subramaniam, chief executive officer of Moser Baer India Ltd. (MBI)’s solar power-plant unit, said in an interview. “I don’t think even the Chinese can manage for long selling at less than $1 a watt.”
The spot market price for solar panels has fallen by about 40 percent this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, as producers, particularly in China, have increased output. The 10 largest silicon panel makers, including China’s Suntech Power Holdings Co., LDK Solar Co. and Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ), doubled their manufacturing capacity last year, BNEF figures show.
“Not everyone who is playing today is going to be around in two to three years,” James G. Brown, the president of the utility-systems business of First Solar Inc. (FSLR), the largest maker of thin-film solar panels, said this week. The company’s rivals are “desperate to find a home for their products,” he said.
Companies around the world built about 17 gigawatts of new solar capacity in 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The falling price of traditional crystalline silicon panels is prompting project developers in India to abandon plans to use the alternative thin-film modules, Subramaniam said. Thin-film is a technology that has tended to be cheaper than crystalline and coats panels with materials including cadmium telluride, copper indium gallium selenide and amorphous silicon.
The market shares in India of 55 percent for thin-film panels and 45 percent for crystalline panels may flip by next year, Subramaniam said in Hyderabad, India.
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