Gartner predicts ray of light for solar tech

Long-term prospects for the photovoltaic market are encouraging, says the analyst house, although the market will have to weather the current economic gloom
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

Renewable-energy technology will be less affected by the global economic downturn than other technologies, according to research by analyst company Gartner.

The analyst house has predicted that the photovoltaic market will grow at a 17 percent compound annual growth rate between 2008 and 2013, reaching a $34bn (£24bn) revenue in 2013.

Growing demand combined with falling manufacturing costs should make the market buoyant, wrote analysts James Hines and Alfonso Velosa in Gartner's Semiconductor DQ Monday Report, Issue 10.

"Growing worldwide demand for 'green' energy sources aligns with shrinking PV [photovoltaic] module prices based on improved manufacturing technologies and less-expensive raw materials," said the report. "Despite this strong growth, solar energy will serve only a fraction of a percent of worldwide energy consumption by 2013, leaving room for substantial growth in the PV market beyond the forecast horizon."

Gartner said continued government support of solar-energy technologies was "likely", which was positive as the industry is not yet developed enough to compete on a cost basis with more traditional forms of power generation. The analysts said that policy support will spur demand, enabling large-scale PV manufacture and driving down costs to the point where solar energy need no longer be subsidised. Gartner forecasted PV market growth to reach 23.4 gigawatts by 2013.

However, while the long-term forecast is good, in the short term photovoltaic technology has been hit by market uncertainties in a similar way to other industries, said the report. "Limited credit, jittery customers and currency fluctuations have hit PV vendors severely," wrote the analysts.

Gartner predicted a one percent market decrease in 2009 in terms of revenues, but an increase of 24 percent in terms of power generation: up to 6.4 gigawatts in 2009.

Editorial standards