Potential areas of success for Northern European firms in the PV industry
Examensarbete för masterexamen
Industrial ecology (MPTSE), MSc
The past decade, the photovoltaic (PV) industry has grown from small and regional to global. This development is important to understand. It can explain what has driven growth and indicate where the industry is heading. Doing so also enables the identification of parts of the PV industry where Northern European firms could compete. The study is a qualitative case study that has been conducted with an inductive approach. Data was gathered through document readings and through interviews with people knowledgeable of the industry. The German feed-‐in tariff introduced in 2004 gave the European PV market a push forward. Demand exceeded supply and firms entered the industry. The increasing demand led to a global polysilicon shortage in the mid 2000’s. Meanwhile, newly established Chinese firms increased their capacity significantly and module prices declined. Combined with reduced subsidies and the financial crisis, this led to an industry consolidation. While the European market stagnated, the Chinese market was boosted by domestic policies and became the world’s largest in 2013. The consolidation also brought protectionism. The US and EU imposed duties on Chinese cells and modules, and China followed by imposing duties on imported polysilicon. Currently, the industry is characterized by overcapacity, although not as severely as a few years ago. The consolidation has slowed down and the industry shows signs of recovery. The market grows largely due to high installation rates in Asia, mainly China and Japan. China is by far the dominating manufacturing nation in the PV value chain, even if other countries still have production in certain technologies or parts of the value chain. Main applications vary substantially between markets, much due to local policy instruments. Scale benefits, low costs, and a large domestic market expect to maintain the Chinese dominance. Firms in Northern Europe are more likely to succeed in R&D, development and manufacturing of equipment, or in the downstream value chain. Which is most suitable depends on each nation’s firms and competences.
Annan naturvetenskap , Other Natural Sciences