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Opportunites knock
ecent figures and analysis appear to show that the worst of the recent financial
fiasco is behind us and that the industry can expect to see growth quarter on
quarter for the time being. Of course these positive signs are based on speculation and only
reflect a slow rise from a precipitous drop. Time will tell if the dynamics are as prophesised.
Due to government subsidies around the globe the Solar industry is not keeping the same
financial beat as other industries. Generous subsidies designed to kick start a local industry
have been major drivers for companies operating in the solar market and like gold rushes of
old there is a flurry of oversupply while subsidies are evident. Once the subsidies cease there is
an exodus leaving an apparent collapsed market with an oversupply of manufacturing and equipment and an
insufficient market. Spain has been the best example of this process.
In view of the impact government subsidies have on the overall industry it is probably a better metric than market
analysis to get a good idea of what is likely to happen in the global solar market place. The biggest news by far is
the expected announcement in September from India’s government that is rumoured to involve 20GW of proposed
installations. This will see India emerge as one of the top PV countries and we can expect a flurry of activity in the
region. This is great news for the indsutry but it is not the only story with reports coming out discussing massive
investment in PV on the African continent as well as subsidies from Germany to China to Australia. And of course
there is the USA energy bill. This will be a massive stimulus to the energy markets but no-one is completely sure
how much will make it to solar. Combined these subsidies will be the true driver of the industry for a few years.
Despite the negative criticism from other industries that subsidies do not create a level playing field for all, they are
the biggest driver for market acceptance of solar as a viable economic energy alternative. Alternative energy
introduction is not just an economical concern with real concerns about the planet’s future ability to sustain us.
David Ridsdale
Issue III 2009
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