PV Crystalox Solar expects 2010 will prove better for the solar industry as new stimulus packages take effect and as weak demand and inventory overhang that has hit pricing improves in the second half of this year.

The main issue is the lack of credit finance for the big solar projects and there's an expectation that will ease in the second half, Chief Executive Iain Dorrity of PV Crystalox, a supplier of silicon wafers to solar cell manufacturers, told Reuters in an interview.

A raft of solar companies, including Q-Cells and PV Crystalox customer Suntech Power, have warned their 2009 sales will fall, after the funding that solar energy producers still depend on dried up, leading demand for solar equipment to fall just as more supplies came onto the market.

PV Crystalox said last month that first-half sales would be 10 percent lower than the previous year.

It's been a challenging year, Dorrity said via telephone. Last year, Spain was a huge market with 2.5 gigawatts and that's almost disappeared this year.

Dorrity welcomed the boost to spending on renewables in the United States by President Barack Obama's administration, but said it would take some time for the measures that had been announced to feed through.

We don't expect to see any real impact until the end of the year. It will be a driver for 2010, he said.

Dorrity also pointed to the reintroduction of subsidies in Japan as a growth driver for the industry.

While 2009 is proving difficult, PV Crystalox's strong balance sheet means it is unlikely to ask the market for more cash, as Q-Cells, SunPower and Renewable Energy Corp have done recently.

We had net cash of 81 million euros at the end of last year and that's increased in the first quarter so we're strongly cash-generative, Dorrity said.

(Editing by Karen Foster)