Europe’s debt crisis will cause global solar-panel demand to fall this year before returning to “moderate growth” in 2012, Germany’s biggest solar-power company by market value said.
Installations will be 19 gigawatts to 21 gigawatts, down from a record 23 gigawatts in 2010, SMA Solar Technology AG said today after posting third-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ estimates.
“The euro and debt crisis is unsettling many end- customers, so investments in solar power plants are being postponed,” Chief Executive Officer Pierre-Pascal Urbon said in the statement. “The banks’ significantly increased refinancing costs are changing the financing structures of large-scale solar projects.”
Urbon hedged his prediction of growth for next year, saying that “stagnation also can not be ruled out at this point.”
SMA is the biggest maker of inverters, devices that connect electricity generated by panels to the transmission grid. It is among solar companies including Bonn-based Solarworld AG to have slumping sales in Europe, where Germany, Italy and France have cut premiums paid for power from photovoltaic panels over the past 12 months.
SMA has supplied 5.4 megawatts in inverters so far this year, compared with 5.7 gigawatts in the first nine months of 2010. Third-quarter sales were underpinned by its medium-sized products and exports to countries such as Italy, the U.S., France and Australia.
Urbon said that growth next year would be driven by North America and Asia, markets that are dominated by utility-scale projects. He expects flat demand in Germany next year, and reduced markets in Italy and France.
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