December and January hold a very special place in the heart of online reporters and publishers, given the opportunity to reminisce on the past year and predict events for the year to come. Top 10 lists have already started to flood sites like BuzzFeed, and research companies are allowed to publish their predictions for their particular speciality.
This week saw two market research leaders jump into the fray, with IHS and Mercom Capital Group both releasing solar predictions for 2014.
And, surprisingly enough, both are in relative agreement with one another, at least on the major issue of total global solar installations for the year coming: Mercom are predicting approximately 43 GW of installations for 2014, while IHS believes that global installations will be in the range of 40 to 45 GW.
“After two years of a punishing downturn, the global solar industry is on the rebound,” said Ash Sharma, senior research director for solar at IHS. “Worldwide PV installations are set to rise by double digits in 2014, solar manufacturing capital spending is recovering, module prices are stabilizing and emerging markets are on the rise. However, challenges remain, including changes in government incentives and policy, an on-going backlash to the rapid rise of renewables and razor-thin margins throughout the solar value chain.”
While Raj Prabhu, CEO and Co-Founder of Mercom Capital Group, commented that market conditions are as stable as they can be in the historically volatile solar industry. “Helped by strong demand, the module oversupply situation has improved. Prices are stable, and manufacturers are reporting shipment growth and ramping up capacity.”
Mercom are predicting both China and US to be the dominant growth countries in 2014, reaching 10.5 and 6 MW respectively, which impressive supply chains and production in both countries helping to place them at the top of the heap.
“At the moment, Japan is a ‘wild card,’” continued Prabhu. “Though forecast to be the second largest market in 2014 with 7 GW installed, there are some mixed signals coming out of Japan.”
We’ve seen Japan making strides towards a renewable energy future in an attempt to divest itself of its massive nuclear power compliment, and policy and public support are all pushing towards such a goal.
Other countries are also on the move, with Germany expected to reach its target of 3.5 GW for 2013, installation totals down from 2012, a trend Mercom expects to carry through to 2014, while India is forecast to install approximately 1.8 GW and the UK and Italy 1.5 GW apiece.
In addition to their overall global installation total prediction, IHS released ten predictions for the 2014 solar industry:
- Double-Digit Growth Yet Again in 2014 as PV Installations Top 40 GW
- PV Energy Storage Moves Beyond Hype in 2014
- PV Module ASP Declines to Keep Margins Slim in 2014
- 2014 to Trigger Technology Upgrades and Return of Capital Spending
- Latin America to Install More Than 1 GW of PV Capacity in 2014
- U.S. Net-Energy Metering Debate Continues in 2014
- Asian PV Inverter Suppliers to Advance in 2014
- China Unlikely to Reach Ambitious Distributed Solar Target in 2014
- PV Module Prices Will Continue to Decline Over the Long Term
- Unsubsidized PV Market to Take Off in 2014
As IHS note, it “is a remarkable achievement for an industry that just four years ago installed less than half this amount” to be looking at a 40-45 GW installation total, in the face of “reduced support and incentives in major European markets, a still-fragile global economy and major trade disputes rocking the industry.”
Again, China is highlighted as a major player in the 2014 market, with the country’s goal of installed 12 GW of PV projects in 2014 a highlight. However, as with Mercom, IHS also feel that China are not going to reach their intended target, suggesting that the country will see “actual totals … fall far short of this goal.”
The prediction that PV module prices will continue to decline over the long term looks a lot like a filler, given the almost certainty surrounding the solar PV module price decline we’ve seen over the past few years, and especially over the past 12 months. Nevertheless, it will continue to be an important aspect of the solar industry to watch, especially as it relates to countries like India and continents like
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