Notwithstanding the global economic meltdown, the world photovoltaic (PV) cell and module testers market has remained buoyant. During 2008
Notwithstanding the global economic meltdown, the world photovoltaic (PV) cell and module testers market has remained buoyant. During 2008, PV had witnessed tremendous growth with an installation increase in excess of 100 percent. The pulsed testers segment has been progressing steadily with sales primarily driven by additions in production capacity. Though the industry is in oversupply, capacity additions are still occurring. Companies have been largely unable to halt additions for 2009 and are likely to slow only in 2010. Beyond 2010, the industry is expected to stabilize and show consistent growth on the back of renewed demand for PV.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (http://www.testandmeasurement.frost.com), 2010 High Growth Market Opportunity – Photovoltaic (PV) Cell and Module Testers, finds that the market earned revenues of over $87.4 million in 2008 and estimates this to reach $321.4 million in 2013.
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For years, PV had been in the research stage, with work going on in the field of increasing conversion efficiencies and reducing costs. Recently, the PV market has blossomed, and a large-scale drive toward production is being seen, with companies adding production capacity regardless of the economic predicament. When production capacity increases, the associated market of testers also benefits.
“Governments across the world have already focused or are beginning to focus on renewable sources of power, especially solar PV,” says Frost & Sullivan Consultant Aditya Nair. “The market is highly subsidized and countries such as Germany and the United States have implemented policies aimed at increasing adoption of PV.”
Along with the increase in PV installations, the demand for manufacturing-related equipment such as testers is slated to increase. Technologies such as thin film are becoming more advanced, and other technologies are also showing lower costs and better efficiencies.
“Though the cost of solar power has been declining over the years, there is still a long way to go before it becomes comparable to conventional sources of power, without being subsidized,” notes Nair. “Obviously, future demand for solar PV related equipment will depend on when PV achieves grid parity.”
The hope of attaining grid parity as early as 2015 is instilling confidence in the market. Demand is growing for testers from both R&D laboratories and manufacturers. The erratic nature of the market is proving to be a challenging aspect. This is evident in the case of Spain, where demand levels soared in 2008 and slumped the following year.
Uncertainty will overshadow the market scenario during the short term, and participants must realize that the market is displaying robust growth and will stabilize in the near future. Considering the overall situation, participants would be wise to continue to ramp up production capacities in order to attain efficiencies of scale.
Over the last few years, Asia Pacific has emerged as the largest producer of PV devices, largely driven by China. Targeting Asia Pacific would be a smart strategy that would ensure more productive business outcomes for participants in this space. Some companies in the PV market are also showing vertical integration, rolling out both testers and other production equipment. More of this can be expected in the future. Participants in this arena should look for alliances between tester manufacturers and equipment integrators to give customers a comprehensive offering.
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