Demand for solar panels is expected to be robust in 2010 and beyond. With 2009 aggregate demand for solar panels expected to be flat compared to 2008, this has been a tough year so far for producers and marketers of solar panels, who had ramped up production all through 2008 based on increasing demand.
The economic turndown in late 2008 all but dried up funding for all projects, including solar, releasing a glut of supplies on the market, solar energy experts said during the recent Reuters Global Energy Summit. The effect was exacerbated early this year when Spain pulled back on the generous solar subsidies it had in place for years, making it one of the largest global producers of electricity from solar.
The resulting glut in supplies lowered the price of solar panels, hurting profit expectations for solar producers, many of which are highly leveraged.
Prospects for 2010, however, look good, said Steven Chan, Chief Strategy Officer of Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd.
With U.S. policy trending toward adoption of solar, along with an ease in the credit market, solar will have better days ahead, said Tom Werner, Chief Executive Officer of SunPower Corp.
Access to improved funding is not expected to kick in until later this year, meaning that solar companies still have a few rough months ahead of them, said Mark Morelli, Chief Executive Officer of Energy Conversion Devices Inc.