by Michael Barker, Analyst
September 13, 2012
After the second day at Solar Power International 2012, it is clear that the much of the focus for downstream companies participating in the show lies not so much in exploiting domestic-US prospects, but in finding the next emerging market prospects to fuel sales channels.
With traditional European markets starting to decline in their ability to drive the global market – and China and India moving from emerging to established markets – many of the pertinent questions now revolve around where PV may succeed next and which countries will then become the emerging regions to track.
Although the rapid decline in component pricing over the past few years has been difficult for manufacturers, it has led to the ability for PV to compete on an economic basis in many new markets. One of the markets explored in concurrent sessions at SPI was the emerging Latin America region. The panelists discussed realities versus expectations in the region, the difficulty in growing a nascent market, and the lack of project financing available for all customer segments in the country.
In fact, all panelists agreed that the biggest challenge in developing markets in the region was the lack of financing for all project sizes. The region is in a tough ‘chicken vs. egg’ type of situation at the moment where financiers are holding back until viable projects can be developed. But it is taking longer to develop such projects due to the lack of financing.
However, while each of these markets faces its own set of hurdles – both economic and regulatory – the fact that PV systems can now compete on a less subsidized electricity-generation basis with retail electricity rates means that substantial growth prospects exist in these markets.