Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Solar Panel Shortage As Stock Diverted to Germany
By Robin Whitlock

Solar PV installers throughout the UK could face a shortage of solar panels due to manufacturers diverting their stock to Germany, the Renewable Energy Association has warned.

The situation is partly a result of the scramble to meet increased demand in response to the December 12th deadline last year, in which many installers used up their existing stock reserves. However, with the possibility of a return to the higher Feed-in Tariff rate of 43p in response to the government defeat in the Court of Appeal, the UK market is showing signs of reviving with a sudden rush of orders following the announcement of the verdict on January 25th. Unfortunately increased demand for panels in Germany and the US has meant that an unexpectedly large amount of solar PV equipment has gone to installers elsewhere, rather than the UK. In December Germany suddenly increased its solar PV capacity by 3 GW, having introduced 4.5 GW of new solar power throughout the rest of the year. A similar influx of panels into the United States has taken place in response to the forthcoming introduction of US Government duties, according to a US solar manufacturing association. The Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) represents over 150 US companies and has reported an annual surge in Chinese imports of around 346 percent. The combined extra delivery of panels to the US and Germany means that there is now very little left to satisfy demand from other countries around the world, including the UK.

“For the UK the present 'mini gold rush', as a result of the Government losing their Appeal, has come at the wrong time” explained Ray Noble, solar PV specialist at the Renewable Energy Association. “not only because of the USA/Chinese product demand, but the fact that Germany installed 3GW in December - after having only installed 4.5GW in the previous 11 months. The Solar Industry was expecting a slow start in 2012 and thought they had enough stock to meet demand and took a long break over Xmas, however they had not allowed for the unexpected 3GW going in Germany which cleaned out the Warehouses of the top brand solar companies.” Mr Noble went on to state that many of the major producers, including the Chinese, will only be able to replenish their stocks by early March, after the 3rd March tariff change deadline.


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