Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Solar Module Price Highlights- April 2007

From http://www.solarbuzz.com/

Price Summary

Over the lifetime of this index, which started back in 2000, one way of analyzing the results is identifying periods of price rises from price declines from periods of stable pricing. Often this simple picture analysis is only fully evident many months after the trend has changed.

In other words, a single month or even 3-6 month period now is a relatively short span of time, when reviewing nearly 7 years of data.

The current peak in the US index at $4.88 per watt was reached in November 2006. The European peak of €4.84 power in May 2006.

In terms of the US market, stability in the index has been evident since reaching a peak. However, this month there has been a small drop of one cent per watt. This is the first drop in the US index since May 2004. Within this data, it should be noted that some product lines are still showing net increases in retail price.

After the significant drop in the European index in February 2007, this index has recorded little movement since that time. The European index does not carry as wide a market representation in the survey as the US retailers.

The one thing Solarbuzz has learnt over the past 7 years is that characterizing the "real" market movements requires analysis by a wide range of research approaches. Over the short term (i.e. 3 months or less), the online survey results often accord with independent research, but sometimes they do not. Of course, one of the checks on module prices is also what is happening at what the industry calls "the factory gate" - this is the price charged by module manufacturers at their first point of sale.

So, where does this leave the current big picture? In Europe, there has been clearer evidence of price declines from the May 2004 peak. In the US market, one month result is not enough to conclude any other than the fact that US retail pricing overall is still stable near its current peak. Certainly, it would still be premature to conclude that the US index will not yet reach a level higher than that first achieved in November. At the same time, the November result may represent the peak. It is going the depend on the weighting of individual product lines in the overall result, given the diversity of price direction by company line at the present time.

Returning to the global retail module April price survey result, there was a total of 41 price increases compared to 56 price decreases. This compares with 57 price increases compared to 28 price decreases in the March surrvey result.

And finally this month, it is always worth reminding those that follow this survey to undertake additional research, whether your own, another consultancy or utilizing Solarbuzz services to ensure you cross-check the results against other data sources. Any result from a single month's survey should be viewed with caution.

Lowest Prices ($/Wp)

Following the run up in prices over the last two years, the tracking of the lowest price band in the survey is now measured against the number of prices below $4.75 per Watt (previously analyzed to below $4.50 per Watt).

As of April 2007, there are currently 202 solar module prices below US $4.75/Wp (€3.56/Wp) or 12.0% of the total sample. This compares with 192 prices below $4.75 per Watt in March.
The lowest retail price for a multicrystalline solar module is $4.31/Wp (€3.23/Wp) from a US retailer. The lowest retail price for a monocrystalline module is $4.30/Wp (€3.23Wp), from a retailer in Germany marketing a Chinese module. A more normal relationship would be lower multicrystalline pricing than mono. However, when you cross regions and company lines, it is a little more complicated than that.

The lowest thin film module price is at $3.00/Wp (€2.25/Wp) per Watt from a US retailer. As a general rule, it is typical to expect thin film modules to be at a price discount to crystalline silicon (for like module powers). This thin film price is represented by a 42 Watt module.

Note once again, that these prices are based upon the purchase of a single solar module and prices are exclusive of sales taxes. Information on volume discounts, factory gate and PV system pricing is available as part of our consultancy services.

Price Index Context

The module cost represents around 50 - 60% of the total installed cost of a Solar Energy System. Therefore the solar module price is the key element in the total price of an installed solar system. All prices are exclusive of sales taxes, which depending on the country or region can add 8-20% to the prices, with generally highest sales tax rates in Europe.

It should be noted that there was an increase in sales tax rate at the beginning of the year in Germany from 16% to 19%. This change does not effect the index itself, since it is calculated pre-sales taxes.

125 Watts and Higher Module Index
Retail Price Per Watt Peak

USA Europe
US$/Watt Euro €/Watt
Apr 2007 4.87 4.80
Mar2007 4.88 4.80
Feb2007 4.88 4.79
Jan2007 4.88 4.82
Dec2006 4.88 4.82
Nov2006 4.88 4.82
Oct2006 4.87 4.83
Sept2006 4.86 4.83
Aug2006 4.86 4.83
July2006 4.85 4.83
June2006 4.83 4.83
May2006 4.82 4.84
Apr2006 4.77 4.82
Mar2006 4.73 4.82
Feb2006 4.73 4.81
Jan2006 4.71 4.80
Dec2005 4.70 4.80
Nov2005 4.68 4.80
Oct2005 4.66 4.79
Sept2005 4.64 4.79
Aug2005 4.63 4.79
July2005 4.56 4.76
June2005 4.54 4.75
May2005 4.53 4.75
Apr2005 4.51 4.75
Mar2005 4.49 4.75
Feb2005 4.47 4.73
Jan2005 4.43 4.73
Dec2004 4.42 4.71
Nov2004 4.42 4.70
Oct2004 4.38 4.67
Sept2004 4.37 4.67
Aug2004 4.36 4.68
July2004 4.34 4.66
June2004 4.32 4.64
May2004 4.32 4.64
Apr2004 4.35 4.67
Mar2004 4.38 4.69
Feb 2004 4.42 4.68
Jan 2004 4.45 4.71
Dec2003 4.47 4.73
Nov2003 4.52 4.74
Oct 2003 4.56 4.75
Sept2003 4.60 4.78
Aug2003 4.62 4.80
July2003 4.67 4.80
June 2003 4.71 4.85
May2003 4.75 4.88
Apr2003 4.78 4.91
Mar2003 4.79 4.97
Feb2003 4.84 5.02
Jan2003 4.87 5.03

Note: As a guide, the industry is looking to drive module prices down to $1.5-2Watt over the next decade, if it is to make large inroads in to the grid tied electricity market, without subsidy.

The All Module Index is volume weighted to take account of the fact that the majority of market demand (in Megawatt terms) occurs in the high power module segment.

No comments: