Investment Report for the German Photovaltaic Industry

Analysed Companies are: Solon SE, Payom AG, Systaic AG & Centrosolar AG

Thesis (M.A.) 2011 162 Pages

Economics - Finance


Table of Content

I Executive Summary

II List of Abbreviations

III List of Tables

IV Table of Figures

V Table of Equations

1. Introduction
1.1. Methodology

2. PESTE Analysis
2.1. Political Landscape
2.2. Economic
2.3. Social
2.4. Technological
2.5. Environment
2.6. Conclusion

3. Industry Analysis
3.1. Global Market
3.2. Current Market Dynamics
3.3. Market Determination through Government Incentives
3.3.1. German Market
3.3.2. Italian Market
3.3.3. France Market
3.3.4. European Market
3.4. Growth Forecast
3.5. PV Technology
3.6. Photovoltaic Value Chain and Major German Players
3.7. Five Forces Framework
3.7.1. Power of Suppliers
3.7.2. Power of Customers
3.7.3. Thread of Substitutes
3.7.4. Threat of New Entrants
3.7.5. Existing Competition
3.8. Conclusion

6. Solon AG
6.1. Solon at a Glance
6.1.1. Business Model
6.1.2. Geographic Diversification
6.2. SWOT Analysis
6.2.1. Strengths
6.2.2. Weaknesses
6.2.3. Opportunities
6.2.4. Threats
6.3. Business Performance
6.3.1. Profit Development
6.3.2. Cost Structure
6.3.3. Financial Gearing
6.3.4. Efficiency
6.4. Valuation
6.4.1. DCF-Method
6.4.2. Stress Testing

7. Payom AG
7.1. Payom at a Glance
7.1.1. Business Model
7.2. SWOT Analysis
7.2.1. Strengths
7.2.2. Weaknesses
7.2.3. Opportunity
7.2.4. Threat
7.3. Business Performance
7.3.1. Profit Development
7.3.2. Cost Structure
7.3.3. Financial Gearing
7.3.4. Efficiency
7.4. Valuation
7.4.1. DCF-Method
7.4.2. Stress Testing

8. Systaic AG
8.1. Systaic at a Glance
8.1.1. Business Model
8.2. SWOT Analysis
8.2.1. Strengths
8.2.2. Weaknesses
8.2.3. Opportunity
8.2.4. Threats
8.3. Business Performance
8.3.1. Profit Development
8.3.2. Cost Structure
8.3.3. Financial Gearing
8.3.4. Efficiency
8.4. Valuation
8.4.1. DCF-Method
8.4.2. Stress Testing

9. Centrosolar AG
9.1. Centrosolar at a Glance
9.1.1. Business Model
9.1.2. Geographic Diversification
9.2. SWOT Analysis
9.2.1. Strengths
9.2.2. Weaknesses
9.2.3. Opportunities
9.2.4. Threats
9.3. Business Performance
9.3.1. Profit Development
9.3.2. Cost Structure
9.3.3. Financial Gearing
9.3.4. Efficiency
9.4. Company Valuation
9.4.1. DCF-Method
9.4.2. Stress Testing

10. Relative Valuation
10.1. Valuation via Multiples
10.2. Past and Future Performance
10.3. Industry Performance in

11. Conclusion
11.1. Company Summary
11.2. Risks to Forecasts
11.3. Valuation Review

12. Appendix
12.1. Photovoltaic Technology Background
12.2. Valuation Assumptions
12.2.1. Discounted Cash Flow Model
12.2.2. Stress Testing
12.3. Solon SE
12.3.1. Organization
12.3.2. Management Team
12.3.3. Financials
12.4. Payom AG
12.4.2. Management Team
12.4.3. Financials
12.5. Systaic AG
12.5.1. Organisation
12.5.2. Management Team
12.5.3. Financials
12.6. Centrosolar AG
12.6.1. Organisations
12.6.2. Management Team
12.6.3. Financials

13. References

I Executive Summary

Macro-Economic Factors

Germany has an attractive investment environment and the large economy experiences already an up-swing after the global recession. The political and social drive towards renewable energy combined with its excellent research environment make huge solar industry improvements and growth predictable. Furthermore, the German government has increased its renewable energy targets over the EU objectives. And this in turn has a positive impact on the solar industry.

Industry Development

Despite the bearish PV market, long-term prospects are flourishing for solar technology. The bear-scenario resulted through the severe industry losses caused by price pressure from cheaper Asian producers. Though there is currently a slowdown in the industry huge growth potential with almost 200% growth worldwide in the next three years (Schramm & Licuanan, 2010) and by almost 700% in the next ten years (IEA, 2010),what facilitates profitable long-term investments.

Company Recommendations

Solon’s share bears a massive downside risk mainly through its high financial gearing caused by significant impairment losses in 2009. It is anticipated that Solon returns to profitability over the next two years and keeps a moderate growth course under the condition of successful refinancing.

Payom’s share is trading at a huge discount. The reasons are the investor’s reluctance over Asian product distributors and the risk involved by entering into the large scale business.

Systaic’s share has experienced a massive downturn over the last year due to the liquidity problems and the involved risk of insolvency. The short-term challenge is to sell the project operations and to secure a re-financing agreement to stabilise the share price in the mid-term. In case of a failed re-financing Systac runs the risk of insolvency and a share price of nil.

Centrosolar share is trading at a discount which is based on its efficient and conservative policy of lower risk over greater sales. This is reflected in slower but smoother growth in the past and leads to the expectation of high profits in the future.

Table 1 Rating Summary

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II List of Abbreviations

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III List of Tables

Table 1 Rating Summary

Table 2 Annual Installations per Country

Table 3 IRRs for Ground-Mounted Solar Systems

Table 4 German FIT Old and New

Table 5 PV Value Chain with Profit Margins

Table 6 Capital Market Development Solon

Table 7 Designated Income Statement Solon (€‘000)

Table 8 Income Statement, Ratios and Cash Flow Statement Solon

Table 9 Credit Rating Solon

Table 10 Internal Liquidity and Cash Conversion Cycle Solon

Table 11 DCF Parameters Solon

Table 12 Calculation of Target Share Price Solon (€’000)

Table 13 DCF-Calculation Solon(€’000)

Table 14 Stress Testing 1 Solon

Table 15 Stress Testing 2 Solon

Table 17 Capital Market Development Payom

Table 18 Designated Income Statement Payom

Table 19 Income Statement, Ratios and Cash Flow Statement Payom (€’000)

Table 20 Internal Liquidity and Cash Conversion Cycle Payom

Table 21 DCF Parameters Payom

Table 22 Calculation of Target Share Price Payom (€’000)

Table 23 DCF-Calculation Payom (€’000)

Table 24 Stress Testing 1 Payom

Table 25 Stress Testing 2 Payom

Table 27 Capital Market Development Systaic

Table 28 Designated Income Statement Systaic

Table 29 Income Statement, Ratios and Cash Flow Statement Systaic (€’000)

Table 30 Income Statement, Ratios and Cash Flow Statement H1-2009/H1-2010 Systaic (€’000)

Table 31Credit Rating Systaic

Table 32 Internal Liquidity and Cash Conversion Cycle Systaic

Table 33 DCF Parameters Systaic

Table 34 Calculation of Target Share Price Systaic (€’000)

Table 35 DCF-Calculation Systaic (€’000)

Table 36 Stress Testing 1 Systaic

Table 38 Capital Market Development Centrosolar

Table 39 Designated Income Statement Centrosolar

Table 40 Income Statement, Ratios and Cash Flow Statement Centrosolar (€’000)

Table 41 Credit Rating Centrosolar

Table 42 Internal Liquidity and Cash Conversion Cycle Centrosolar

Table 43 DCF Parameters Centrosolar

Table 44 Calculation of Target Share Price Centrosolar (€’000)

Table 45 DCF-Calculation Centrosolar (€’000)

Table 46 Stress Testing 1 Centrosolar

Table 47 Stress Testing 2 Centrosolar

Table 49 Key Criteria for Stock Appraisal

Table 50 Solar Peer Valuation

Table 51 EV according to Multiples

Table 52 ROIC based on the Economic Balance Sheet

Table 53 Mid-Term Outlook

Table 54Industry Ratios

Table 55 Rating Summary

Table 56 Historical Balance Sheet Solon

Table 57 Historical Income Statement Solon

Table 58 Ratios Solon

Table 59 Detailed DCF Calculation Solon

Table 60 Historical Balance Sheet Payom

Table 61 Historical Income Statement Payom

Table 62 Ratios Payom

Table 63 Detailed DCF Calculation Payom

Table 64 Historic Balance Sheet Systaic

Table 65 Historic Income Statement Systaic

Table 66 Ratios Systaic

Table 67 Detailed DCF Calculation Systaic

Table 68 Historic Balance Sheet Centrosolar

Table 69 Historic Income Statement Centrosolar

Table 70 Ratios Centrosolar

Table 71 Detailed DCF Calculation Centrosolar

IV Table of Figures

Figure 1 GDP and GDP Growth Rate in Germany

Figure 2 German Yield Curve

Figure 3 Final Energy Supply from renewable Energy Sources in Germany

Figure 4 Historic Developments of Cumulated PV Installations

Figure 5 Cumulated PV Market Share in

Figure 6 Annual PV Installations

Figure 7 New Installations and Energy Supply from PV in Germany

Figure 8 Market Shares in Roof-Top Segment

Figure 9 BCG Positions throughout the Product Life Cycle

Figure 10 Cumulated Installed PV Capacities by End-Using Sector

Figure 11 Performance and Price of Different PV Modules in

Figure 12 PV Industry Profitability

Figure 13 Global Revenue Growths of Renewables in US-Dollar

Figure 14 Revenue & NOPAT Outlook Solon (€‘000)

Figure 15 Relative Performance to DAX & TECDAX from 01/2010-09/2010 Solon

Figure 16 Shareholder Structure Solon

Figure 17 Segmental Split of Revenues Solon

Figure 18 Gross Profit per Segment Solon (€’000)

Figure 19 Revenues by Region Solon

Figure 20 Revenues and EBITDA Margin Solon (€'000)

Figure 21 Net Income and EBT Margin Solon(€’000)

Figure 22 Cost Structure Solon

Figure 23 Equity and Liability Development Solon

Figure 24 Financial Gearing Solon

Figure 25 Payable and Receivable Period Solon

Figure 26 Revenue & NOPAT Outlook Payom (€’000)

Figure 27 Relative Performance to DAX & TECDAX from 01/2010-09/2010 Payom

Figure 28 Shareholder Structure Payom

Figure 29 Revenues by Region to August 2010 Payom

Figure 30 Revenues and EBITDA Margin Payom (€’000)

Figure 31 Net Income and EBT Margin Payom (€’000)

Figure 32 Cost Structure Payom

Figure 33 Equity and Liability Development Payom

Figure 34 Financial Gearing Payom (€’000)

Figure 35 Payable and Receivable Period Payom

Figure 36 Revenue & NOPAT Outlook Systaic (€’000)

Figure 37 Relative Performance to DAX & TECDAX from 01/2010-09/2010 Systaic

Figure 38 Shareholder Structure Systaic

Figure 39 Segmental Split of Revenues Systaic

Figure 40 Revenues by Region Systaic

Figure 41 Revenues and EBITDA Margin Systaic (€’000)

Figure 42 Revenues and EBITDA Margin H1-2009/H1-2010 Systaic (€’000)

Figure 43 Net Income and EBT Margin Systaic (€’000)

Figure 44 Net Income and EBT Margin H1-2009/H1-2010 Systaic (€’000)

Figure 45 Cost Structure Systaic

Figure 46 Cost Structure H1-2009/H1-2010 Systaic

Figure 47 Equity and Liability Development Systaic

Figure 48 Equity and Liability Development H1-2009/H1-2010 Systaic

Figure 49 Financial Gearing Systaic

Figure 50 Financial Gearing H1-2009/H1-2010 Systaic

Figure 51 Payable and Receivable Period Systaic

Figure 52 Revenue & NOPAT Outlook Centrosolar (€’000)

Figure 53 Relative Performance to DAX & TECDAX from 01/2010-09/2010 Centrosolar

Figure 54 Shareholder Structure Centrosolar

Figure 55 Segmental Split of Revenues Centrosolar

Figure 56 Gross Profit per Segment Centrosolar (€’000)

Figure 58 Revenues by Region Centrosolar

Figure 59 Revenues and EBITDA Margin Centrosolar (€’000)

Figure 60 Net Income and EBT Margin Centrosolar (€’000)

Figure 61 Cost Structure Centrosolar

Figure 62 Equity and Liability Development Centrosolar

Figure 63 Financial Gearing Centrosolar

Figure 64 Payable and Receivable Period Centrosolar

Figure 65 Market Capitalisation in Mio. EURO between 08/08-09/

Figure 66 Volatility of Market Capitalisation in Percentage between 08/08-09/

Figure 67 Share Prices’ Historic and Expected Performance

Figure 68 Break Down of Value Creation

Figure 69 Break Down of Solar Technology

V Table of Equations

Equation 1 Free Cash Flow

Equation 2 Capital Asset Pricing Model

Equation 3 Weighted Average Costs of Capital

Equation 4 Continuing Value for DCF-Method

Equation 5 Mid-Year Adjustment Factor

1. Introduction

As result of the worldwide availability of sunlight and the flexibility of the solar cell applications in terms of their size and placement, the solar industry has developed very quickly over the last few years and has huge potential as a renewable energy source. This is reflected in the PV application escalation from 1.4 GW in 2000 to 27 GW in 2010 worldwide and an expansion to 3,155 GW is expected by 2050 (LEA, 2010; EPIA, 2010). The key drivers for solar include; climate pressure, tighter resources and the political aim of energy independency which has allowed many governments subsidise PV applications. Consequently, this industry consists of huge future cash flows and the successful players will evolve as the next blue chip companies. Thus, the correct investment in the next generation of PV companies is essential and this report gives an overview of the industry as such and assesses four German PV distributors and project developers. Germany with 45% of all installed PV (Gruber, 2010) is by far the most significant market in the world and German solar entities are considered to be the industry leaders.

1.1. Methodology

The aim of this report is to obtain the fair value of the analysed companies by using their financial statements and industry reports to give a sophisticated investment recommendation. The applied research approach is a top-down approach; hence the main industry and macro economical influence factors are investigated for the prospective company performance.

- The first part consists of a macro-economic analysis of Germany by using a PESTE framework.
- The second part is a detailed industry analysis to main regions, demand forecasts, technology differences and profitability analysis through Porter’s (1980) 5 forces framework.
- In the next step the four companies: Solon SE, Payom AG, Systaic AG and Centrosolar AG are analysed in depth. The examination consists of the business model, strategy, SWOT analysis, performance comparison through KPI developments and entity valuations through multiples and a DCF model.
- Finally, the company results are compared and analysed in comparison to the overall industry.

The cut-off date is the 31/08/2010 and so any data revealed after this date is not considered for this report or the conducted valuations. The main source for the company analyses are annual reports and as such not separately referenced in the report. Annual reports from 2009 are predominately used, since they are audited and not just reviewed such as the interim reports (Palepu et al, 2007). Interim reports are merely used as additional source for development updates or in case of fundamental revenue changes, as in the case of Systaic AG.

2. PESTE Analysis

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Germany is a member of the G8 and a driving force in the EU. Germany has the largest economy and highest population in Europe with a GDP of over €2,409 billion and 82.3 million inhabitants (CIA, 2010). It maintains a healthy democracy, high quality of ownership and a strong business freedom; whereby it is ranked as 23rd freest economy in the world (World Resource Institute, 2010).

2.1. Political Landscape

The German government follows a high-tech strategy aiming for a market leading position in new technologies. As a result, Germany belongs to the innovation leaders of Europe and is ranked third on the EIS summary innovation index within the EU-27. From 2006-2009 the high-tech strategy budget amounted to €14.6 billion and the government increased the program budget by another €1.5 billion for 2010 (Datamonitor, 2010). Additionally, there is the ‘Seventh Framework Programme of the EU’ which funds research in Europe and runs from 2007-2013 with a budget of €50.5 billion (Ideas, Innovation, Prosperity, 2010). In the course of these programs German solar manufacturers’ benefit from increased R&D support to strengthen their technological advantage.

2.2. Economic

During the financial crisis, the global demand for German exports including solar products fell. Germany’s economy suffered under the financial downturn as its GDP shrank over -4.9% in 2009, compared to an average GDP growth of 0.5% during 2003-2009 (Datamonitor, 2010). Since the first quarter of 2010, Germany’s economy has recovered (Federal Statistical Office of Germany, 2010) but full recovery is not forecasted until 2013 (OECD, 2010a). This has an adverse effect on the solar industry through a rapid global decline in demand for PV systems during the crisis and a sluggish recovery.

Figure 1 GDP and GDP Growth Rate in Germany

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Source<Datamonitor, 2010,pp. 46

The German government tackled the global downturn by injecting approximately €200 billion from 2008-10 to stabilise and stimulate the economy (Regierung Online, 2010; International Labour Office, 2010). The German solar industry has been positively affected by these injections since the funds are largely invested in the industrial sector to support Germany’s leading export position (Datamonitor, 2010). Furthermore, the government introduced corporate tax reliefs, extended depreciation options and enacted a short-time working benefit scheme to avoid substantial retrenchment. According to the chosen policies a rising debt ratio is anticipated and the expected increase in interest rates puts even more pressure on the deficits (OECD, 2010b). The financial packages are considered to be sufficient by the government (OECD, 2010a) and as a consequence, in June 2010, it passed a national saving plan of over €80 billion for the next four years. The saving plan enforces economic growth, employment and education as well as aiming for reduced government spending on subventions, social benefits, army and administration expenditures (Federal Ministry for Finance, 2010).

Overall, the chosen political reforms are business friendly and will stimulate economic growth in Germany; however, budget rebalancing can be tricky and is something which needs to be constantly monitored.

Germany’s monetary policy is managed by the European Central Bank. From 2004-09, the average inflation rate in the Euro zone was 1.5% although, in 2009 it fell to 0.4% due to the banking rescue package by the German government during the financial crisis (Federal Statistical Office of Germany, 2010). In the long-term, the inflation rate is expected to increase (IMF, 2010) and could have an adverse effect on solar applications through rising prices. However, falling production costs will compensate for the inflationary price rises.

The historical low interest rate in Germany is expected to increase and this is already reflected in the upwards sloping yield curve for German Government and ECB bonds.

Figure 2 German Yield Curve 2010

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The low interest rate has no impact on PV sales to households, since they usually finance the investment with their own capital (Payom, 2010). In contrast, the interest rate has a direct impact on the application of solar plants and their attractiveness as investment object. The determined feed in tariffs guarantee a high and stable rate of return in comparison to the high stock market volatility and low interest rate. However, banks are currently reluctant to give loans for turnkey projects. Thus, a recovery of large scale projects is not expected in the next two years (Centrosolar, 2010; Payom, 2010). The low interest rate has also a strong impact on the solar companies and their cost of capital. Many companies financed their rapid growth over the past with short-term credit lines and the low interest rate reduced the cost of capital. However, many companies suffer under liquidity problems and as result many fund providers charge high risk premiums.

In the long run, increasing interest rates will be compensated by the eased access to funding and thus the impact on the industry will not be as drastic.

2.3. Social

Germany has a large population, a well-developed welfare system and enjoys economic prosperity. This combination makes the German market very interesting for corporations since a huge demand is backed by sufficient buying power. Despite the high literacy rate, tertiary education is relatively low in comparison to the OECD average (OECDa, 2010). Consequently, there will be a shortage in skilled engineers, who are strongly needed in the solar industry. The government has responded by improving educational standards, offering employment to graduates from new EU member countries and by decreasing the minimum required salary for skilled workers to get work permission (Datamonitor, 2010). For the time being, the solar industry has sufficient engineers but with a growing industry and increased competition, skilled engineers will become scarcer.

2.4. Technological

Germany has an outstanding research position, whereby its information, communication and technology research accounts for 25% of that in Europe. The research industry benefits from its highly skilled labour force and government incentives (Datamonitor, 2010). Technological advantage is secured through the high-tech government strategy which aims to achieve a market leading position in new technologies. The government funded the campaign ‘Central Innovation Program for SME’ as part of the economy stimulus package. The program supports innovation alliances between private companies, public research organisations and public funding agencies. Solar projects are part of this campaign and in the course of this program the government supplies up to 50% of financial requirements for the individual project. The program budget amounts to €14.6 billion for the period from 2006-09 and the government increased the program budget by €1.5 billion for 2010 (Datamonitor, 2010).

The government high-tech strategy and resource allocation will presumably strengthen Germany’s technological competence and competitive advantage. However, subsidies are prone to changes or removals through the excessive government debts.

2.5. Environment

Germans belong to the most conscious population regarding environmental matters worldwide (Schreurs, 2002). Consequently, Germany has a strong environmental record and implements the Kyoto protocol. On a federal state level, the Green party entered the government in 1998 and in 2000. The government agreed to a total nuclear energy phase out by 2021, which implies an increasing energy demand from alternative energy sources (Datamonitor, 2010). On an EU level, Germany is committed to the ‘Green Paper Act’, which aims for a 20% of Europe’s energy to be derived from renewable sources by 2020 (EC, 2006). Thus, Germany passed the EEG which requires energy companies to purchase power generated from renewable sources at a fixed price over the market price. This law boosted the solar application in Germany but since the government reduced the rates in 2009 solar growth declined. Overall, a long-term solar industry growth is expected since the German government aims to generate 30% by 2020 and 45% by 2030 from renewable energies which is over the EU targets (Sawin, 2007). On the whole, renewable energies have a market share of 10.1% in Germany, whereby PV accounts merely for 2.6% in 2009 (Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, 2010).

Figure 3 Final Energy Supply from renewable Energy Sources in Germany 2009

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Another trend in Germany are Eco-Buildings; buildings which are particular energy efficient and only use renewable energy solutions (Erhorn et al, 2007). These buildings use solar panels as energy source and due to their energy efficiency the solar generated energy fulfils 100% of the energy demand in comparison to 75% by normal buildings (Hasan, 2005).

Germany follows several laws and regulations on both, national and EU level. Moreover, the EEG was a great stimulus for the solar industry as it increased Germany’s targets over that of the EU objectives.

2.6. Conclusion

To recap, Germany appears as a very promising and profitable country for investments and especially for solar investments. The political and social drive towards renewable energies combined with its excellent research environment make great solar industry improvements and growth predictable. The strong economy with its business freedom reduces political risk and projects high profits. More critical is the high national budget deficit and its negative growth, which prognosticates reduction of subventions and possible tax increases.

3. Industry Analysis

The industry analysis is divided into a geographic assessment including the main markets, major developments, PV technology, the solar value chain and finally a profitability analysis by using Porter’s (Porter, 1980) five forces framework.

3.1. Global Market

The global PV market is young and rapidly growing. PV revenues account for $36.1 billion in 2009 (Pernick et al, 2010) and had a cumulated installed capacity of 20.5 GW[1] (IEA, 2010; Bank Sarasin, 2010a).

Figure 4 Historic Developments of Cumulated PV Installations

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Figure 5 Cumulated PV Market Share in 2009

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In 2009, new installations passed the 7GW mark representing a growth of 26% and an even higher growth over 61% is expected for 2010 (Schramm & Licuanan, 2010).The world market is dominated by a few countries with strong government incentives; where Germany leads with 53% of new installations in 2009 alone (Schramm & Licuanan, 2010).

Figure 6 Annual PV Installations

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The global near term outlook under a rather bullish scenario:

Table 2 Annual Installations per Country

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3.2. Current Market Dynamics

The financial crisis, decreasing subsidies, increasing production capacity and innovative new players have changed the industry from a supply driven to a demand driven industry. Subsequently, solar prices fell by 40-50% in 2009 and solar producers had to write down inventories which weakened their profits (Solon, 2010; Payom, 2010). In 2010, the prices stabilised through increased demand and further price reductions are not expected (Bumm, 2010). Consequently, manufacturers have to focus on cost reductions by moving their productions from high wage countries to lower wage countries. Moreover, companies in developed countries have to increase their R&D expenditures to sustain their quality leadership and sales premium (Centrotherm, 2010). During the financial crisis PV companies had to optimise their cost structure and focus on their core business. Since this period is over and most companies returned to profitability, industry mergers and acquisitions are expected.

The recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico once again brought about political attention to renewable energy sources. President Obama is determined to support clean energy (Energy Matters, 2010), which could involve increasing solar subsidies.

Currently, the component segment is prospering whereas the project segment lags behind due to tighter credit markets and decelerating subsidies (Centrotherm, 2010). In addition, large scale projects are pre-financed by the developers which increase the working capital requirement and the net gearing of the company. Since, these projects have a time horizon of a few years, many companies suffer under this liquidity lack and are jeopardised by insolvency. This development is underlined by the lack of a securitisation market for solar projects, given that their lifespan is over 20 years (Johnson, 2009).

3.3. Market Determination through Government Incentives

The highly subsidised solar market attracts many new competitors (Centrotherm, 2010); however, until grid parity is reached, the sector’s profitability depends heavily on these subsidies. Grid parity is expected to be reached over the next couple of years in areas such as California, Spain, Japan and Italy (Lorenz et al, 2008). In that respect, profitability depends on the FIT as well as the sun irradiation of the region. Despite falling FIT rates the profitability of PV application is underlined through decreasing technology costs, which provides a constant yield (Rath & Clover, 2010; Jaeger-Waldau, 2008).

Table 3 IRRs for Ground-Mounted Solar Systems

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3.3.1. German Market

A key supporter for solar energy in Germany is the ‘EEG’ which requires energy companies to purchase power, generated from renewable sources at a fixed price over the market price. Despite the financial crisis, PV instalments doubled in Germany to 3.8GW in 2009 and 5GW are predicted for 2010 (Bumm, 2010; Schramm & Licuanan, 2010). Sustainable PV growth is assured, since Germany increased its green energy targets to 30% over the EU target of 20% by 2020 and 45% by 2030 (Sawin, 2007).

Figure 7 New Installations and Energy Supply from PV in Germany

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The German roof-top market is dominated by single households and followed by large scale projects such as open agricultural fields and industrial roofs.

Figure 8 Market Shares in Roof-Top Segment

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The 2009 growth driver was the cut in the FIT and the aim to participate in the older, more favourable tariffs. Tariffs are adjustable and were reduced in 2008, 2009 and twice in 2010 (LEW Verteilnetz, 2010; SolarWorld, 2010; Hughes, 2010). Further reductions are anticipated in 2011 and 2012 but in spite of these reductions the PV demand remains high (Rusch, 2010).

Table 4 German FIT Old and New

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3.3.2. Italian Market

Italy is the second largest PV market in terms of sales in Europe through its high sun exposure and generous FIT (Rath & Clover, 2010). Italy’s growth figures are double-digit percentages and the volume in 2009 exceeded 400MW (Solon, 2010).

3.3.3. France Market

France, with its generous FIT is expected to be the next growth market in Europe. However, France has a different approach to the German and Spanish markets which are based on various applications and on large open fields respectively. The French FIT subsidies merely building integrated PV systems. This requirement could be judged as protectionism since France has a highly sophisticated building integrated PV industry (Gruber, 2010).

3.3.4. European Market

The EU aims to generate 20% of its energy consumption from renewables by 2020 (EC, 2008), requiring government intervention by the individual member states. However, each member state can choose which technology they are going to promote to achieve its energy targets. Overall, the EU’s aim underlines Europe’s position as a large future solar market (Solon, 2010). Additionally, governmental initiatives to expand solar applications are intended in Japan, China, Australia, India and the USA (IEA, 2010; SolarWorld, 2010).

3.4. Growth Forecast

The increasing energy demand of 60% by 2030 (EC, 2006; IEA, 2009) and the EU target of generating 20% of renewables by 2020 leads to massive solar investments with projected capacity growth of 30-35% pa in the medium-term (Pernick et al, 2010). Since the launching phase for PV technology is over, high growth prospects are the next product life stage of ‘growth/star’.

Figure 9 BCG Positions throughout the Product Life Cycle

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The long-term forecast exhibits the massive growth potential and the shift from PV residential to utility application.

Figure 10 Cumulated Installed PV Capacities by End-Using Sector

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The global market is extremely sales sensitive to the European and in particular the German market because Germany alone accounts for 53% of new installed PV systems worldwide (Mints & Hopwood, 2009; Schramm & Licuanan, 2010). With Europe as PV net importer and the export orientation of many countries future demand and prices depend heavily on the development of the European market. However, Europe and in particular Germany cannot absorb the international excess in supply and price cuts are obligatory.

3.5.PV Technology

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Technological uncertainty challenges manufacturers regarding future developments. Thin film gained rapid popularity during the silicon shortage in 2008, but because silicon capacity expansions grew by over 40% in 2009 (Bank Sarasin, 2010) analogue crystalline production costs fell by almost 80% (Johnson, 2009). The silicon dominance is rebuilt in the PV sector even though innovations can alter this dominance in favour of thin film or an alternative technology (Lorenz et al, 2008).

Figure 11 Performance and Price of Different PV Modules in 2008

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Source: IEA, 2009,pp. 8

3.6.Photovoltaic Value Chain and Major German Players

The PV value chain is quite diverse with substantially different profit margins. The companies analysed in this report are at the down-side of the chain mainly in the distribution and project development.

Table 5 PV Value Chain with Profit Margins

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3.7. Five Forces Framework

By using Porter’s five forces framework (1980), the overall profitability of the PV sector is classified as medium; due to the low entry barriers and high competition. Many low cost producers from Asia entered the market attracted by low product differentiation, diminishing brand importance and high growth rates. This resulted in a shift from a demand driven to a supply driven industry, where western manufacturers positioned themselves as product leaders but are forced to optimise costs and market consolidation is inevitable.

Figure 12 PV Industry Profitability

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PV is non-substitutable for low scale applications but on large scale applications it is competing with various renewable energy sources. Supplier power is weakened by low wafer and cell differentiation and the trend of backward integration. High switching costs due to the longevity of PV systems and the large number of small buyers weakens buying power; however, large project operators’ possess some financial muscle.

3.7.1. Power of Suppliers

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The main raw material for photovoltaic is silicon which is an abundant natural resource. Silicon is produced and distributed by many different suppliers and the price determination is carried out on international commodity markets. The silicon shortage from 2008 is over but adverse affected margins could not recover due to price declines triggered by increasing competition. Supplier power is additionally weakened by the low level of wafer and cell component differentiation. A current industry trend is backward integration and manufacturers have to be cautious by not tying themselves to the wrong technology (Lorenz et al, 2008).

Switching costs are low, but many manufacturers have entered into long-term contracts with suppliers to hedge against hiking silicon prices (SolarWorld, 2010, Phoenix Solar, 2010). These contracts can make it difficult for manufacturers to pass on price declines to suppliers (Schramm & Licuanan, 2010). Component contracts, in contrast, are usually more flexible to take advantage from any technology/efficiency changes (Solon, 2010).


[1] This covers approximately 20 million people by an average annual consumption of 1,000 kWh per person (SolarWorld, 2009).


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University of the West of England, Bristol
photovaltaic solon payom systaic centrosolar Investment Report Analysis Finance Investment Analysis Finanzwesen Research Report Solar Investition Aktienanalyse Unternehmensbewertung Company Valuation Germany Valuation



Title: Investment Report for the German Photovaltaic Industry