FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German solar wholesaler Phoenix Solar expects demand for solar modules to recover after a dismal third quarter in Germany, the world’s No.1 solar market, but does not see booming demand in the year-end period.
“We still expect good business at the end of the year, but it won’t be a year-end rally,” Phoenix Solar’s Chief Executive Andreas Haenel told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.
Last year, customers rushed to buy solar modules in the last three months of the year -- when almost 60 percent of full-year solar capacities were added -- thereby taking advantage of higher sector subsidies, ahead of slight cuts in early 2010.
As feed-in tariffs -- costs paid to solar power generators and ultimately paid by consumers -- remained favorable, demand for solar modules also rocketed in 2010, bringing up the volume of new installations to about 5.4 GW in the first nine months of the year.
This compares with 3.9 GW for the whole of 2009.
Large one-off cuts from July, however, led to a strong decrease in the third-quarter, according to data from the German network agency, showing that new installations of solar power dropped to 1.52 gigawatts (GW). This is less than half the record 3.14 GW booked in the second quarter, when subsidies were still higher.
The drop has forced companies - such as wholesaler Phoenix Solar as well as peers SolarWorld and Q-Cells, to look for growth abroad, mainly in other European countries, and to reduce their high exposure to Germany, where Phoenix made almost 90 percent of its first-half sales.
“The international business has grown significantly in the third quarter, but cannot offset the decrease in our domestic market,” Haenel said, declining to give further details ahead of the company’s results on November 10.
According to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, expectations for Phoenix’s third-quarter sales stand at 123 million euros ($172.6 million), far below the record 284 million in the April-June period.