Clean Power

Published on June 18th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


US Solar To Hit Grid Parity 2014–2017 (+ More Solar PV Charts, Sort Of…)

June 18th, 2013 by  

Following my article on a GBI Research report about the Global Energy Storage Market to 2020 (April 2013), below is a teaser on another GBI Research report — a “Solar Photovoltaics Power Market to 2020” report (published in October 2012) that it recently just shared with me. (Note: CleanTechnica has a partnership with GBI Research*.)

Again, we don’t get to see any of the important numbers from the report (without purchasing it), but there are numerous interesting sample charts from the report that I get to share with you all below.

US Solar Grid Parity

First of all, here’s a fun one that shows that solar PV power should hit grid parity in the US (on average) between 2014 and 2017:

us solar grid parity

The distributed solar power revolution is on its way.

Global Solar PV Market To Boom

Naturally, with solar power prices dropping so fast and electricity prices rising (as well as government policies to combat global warming and promote clean energy), solar power’s fast growth is projected to increase around the world. As the following charts indicate, the global solar PV market in 2015 is projected to be more than double what it was in 2011, with strong growth going up through 2020 as well:

global solar pv market 2020

solar pv world market

Thin-Film Solar To See Growing Share Of Solar PV Market

Interestingly, GBI Research also projects that thin-film solar models will see strong growth in market share again (following steep drops in conventional solar module prices related to massive oversupply and Chinese manufacturing), as well as some emerging solar technologies (e.g. CPV):

thin folm solar market share 2020

Solar Power Splits In Germany & Spain

The GBI Research report also delves into the solar PV markets in numerous leading countries. As a sample of that, here’s a sample chart of the 2011 German solar PV market segment split (residential vs commercial/industrial vs utility-scale solar):

germany solar pv market split 2011

And here’s one of the off-grid versus on-grid solar power split in Spain 2005–2011:

Spain off grid solar power 2011

Yes, I’d also love to see the projections for such splits, as well as all the other country data and charts included in the report. Alas, investing in such a report isn’t warranted by my work needs and budget. However, if such an investment fits your needs, go ahead and buy the report!

*The partnership works as follows: you get a 10% discount on GBI Research’s cleantech market research reports, GBI Research sells more reports, and CleanTechnica gets a small cut of these report sales.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Bob_Wallace

    First graph – terrible job of color selection.

    I question whether grid prices will rise that fast. What we’re seeing in places that have installed a lot of renewables (solar in Germany, wind in Texas) is that it’s making electricity cheaper or at least dampening the rate of price increase.

    A lot more solar on US grids will cut the amount of expensive peaker power used and lower the merit order price ceiling across the board. Just removing a little demand can have a very large effect on peak settling price.

    • Otis11

      Exactly – In places with high renewable potential and low population density (like much of the South, Mid-West and South-West US) I don’t actually see electricity prices rising substantially in the next 15 years. (Unless there’s a carbon tax or some other change in policy).

      The reason for this? Simply that the renewable market is growing rather rapidly and the price of renewables are declining. With existing infrastructure in conventional plants, if you add enough capacity that you end up retiring the most expensive 2-5% of your conventional generation every year, it makes a huge impact on pricing.

      Even if the price of every source rises consistently from year to year, as you trim off the most expensive production methods, the end price will stay fairly stable…

      Add in the fact that roof-top solar is almost at grid parity in most of these places (if it’s not already there) and I just don’t see prices going up substantially…

  • Jouni Valkonen

    I think that Figure 4 is too pessimistic. linear projection is certainly not good approach. The solar production will increase exponentially, because the price per watt is declining at quite significant rate — still at least one or two decades. And as global grid parity is archieved around 2015, the installation rate of solar power will accelerate greatly.

    Also battery storage technology is improving exponentelly. And battery storage technology makes roof-top solar very attractive and significant player.

    • JamesWimberley

      I second this. The chart shows a clear point of inflection at the present, with an unexplained and improbable slowdown in the adoption of a technology which is not only getting cheaper on trend, but now regularly hitting grid parity tipping points. You’d expect growth to accelerate if anything. McKinsey ran a scenario on those very lines.

      Another point is that the US average LCOE is not very useful. Electricity markets are state not federal, and insolation varies regionally. So with grid parity already there in the Southwest, you’d expect mass adoption starting there and spreading E and N. I’d add that without the cost-of-capital number for LCOE, which depends on public policy and financial intermediaries, you can’t evaluate the estimates.

      • Jouni Valkonen

        I think that the roof-top solar boom in US is starting from North-East, because there is more favorable political climate for solar. The insolation did not prevent Germany to install 100 GW solar by 2017.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I also agree. These folks likely underestimate.

      Solar prices, including installation costs, are coming down. Panel prices are expected to drop by one-third in the next three years.

      The western world is recovering from the 2008 economic crash. There’s more money to spend on getting solar on rooftops and less anxiety causing people to avoid investing.

      Concern about climate change is growing.

      I would expect we would see end-user solar installation rates highest in areas with the highest retail electricity rates. The New England and Middle Atlantic states have higher than average electricity costs which makes solar a good investment even though they might get a bit less sun (annually) than Southwest states.

      Look at how much solar New Jersey has installed.

      • arne-nl

        Do they have net metering in those Mid Atlantic states with high electricity prices?

    • Juan Pelotas

      We’ve been at residential grid price for some time now (with the feds incentive); the problem is not panels anymore; it’s the installation cost. Most programs require professional installation.

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