GTM Research solar experts Adam James and Scott Moskowitz delve into global solar demand every day in excruciating detail.
We'll be checking in with them periodically to see what's on their solar-obsessed minds and reading lists. Our previous Global Solar Note covered the trouble brewing in India's Solar Mission Program and the U.K.'s huge first quarter.
Here are four recent stories that have caught the attention of the analysts.
EU drops solar Chinese solar module volume cap and price floor
The European Union's 2014 volume cap on Chinese PV modules dropped from 7 gigawatts to 5.8 gigawatts, and the price floor was lowered from €0.56 per watt to €0.53 per watt. Despite some gains in the U.K., the EU is seeing weak demand and lower average module prices. GTM Research's James notes that China's Trina and Yingli have both revised their shipment forecasts down. Yingli, the world's largest solar-panel maker, "expects first-quarter shipments to have slumped by at least 30 percent from the previous three months," according to Bloomberg.
The bottom line is that demand is soft in the EU. The GTM Research analysts cautioned that Germany was on pace to hit a relatively modest 2 gigawatts in 2014, a low point in recent demand.
James believes that the move by the EU to dial-in the price floor and volume cap is an effort to stoke regional demand.
For more on PV pricing trends see the PV pulse.
Germany, the U.K. and the difficult transition from a subsidy-laden market
While the European Commission is pushing for market-based policies as incentives decline, "Germany isn't taking heed," according to the analysts. Instead, the country is passing a restrictive self-consumption tax that is being challenged in court.
The U.K. took a different approach, introducing a market-based contracts-for-difference scheme that will begin later this year with a contract price of £120 per megawatt-hour -- almost double the current FIT levels. This is essentially a "government-procured synthetic PPA," that should spur demand.
For more on trends in global demand, see GTM's strategic consulting services.
China's distributed solar market heating up
China will continue to be the world's largest solar market in 2014, with demand driven by massive utility-scale build-out. But China also has sizable distributed generation targets in place, which have been greeted with skepticism in some quarters.
The bottom line according to the analysts is, "We will see a DG market in China with new players that may not have had a share in a utility-dominated market."
Clenergy recently announced a JV for 150 megawatts in Fujian (2014 DG target of 300 megawatts); Jun Yang Solar raised $25 million for projects in Jiangsu (2014 DG target of 1 gigawatt) and Zhejiang (2014 DG target of 1 gigawatt); and Hanwha SolarOne is looking to develop 100 megawatts in eastern China.
Although ambitious 8-gigawatt DG targets will not be met, the analysts expect the China DG segment to attract a lot of interest and to witness the emergence of new and up-and-coming vendors.
Turkey solar recipe
After some false starts, the PV market in Turkey "is finally getting started," according to the GTM analysts. CSUN has signed a supply agreement for a 15-megawatt system, and Sungrow has supplied 2 megawatts of photovoltaic systems spread out over four projects, which the analysts describe as "the first concrete signs of movement in this emerging market."
James notes that Turkey's feed-in tariff was "massively oversubscribed" and applications had to be sorted out -- but the market is real and finally starting to gain traction.