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Published on June 17th, 2015 | by Joshua S Hill


Mercom Forecasts 2015 Global Solar Installations To Reach 57.4 GW

June 17th, 2015 by  

Global consulting firm Mercom Capital has forecast global solar installations to reach 57.4 GW in 2015, revising its previous forecasts upwards due to positive news coming out of China.

“We are revising our forecast upwards since our previous update due to positive news coming out of China along with revised installation goals,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO and Co-Founder of Mercom Capital Group, which is expecting China, Japan, and the United States to account for 60% of global solar installations in 2015.


Mercom’s revised forecast is up several GW, relying on China’s recent revision to its own solar installation targets for 2015. In March, Mercom forecast global solar installations would reach 54.5 GW, however, since then China has revised her solar installation target by 20%, aiming to reach 18 GW by the end of the year.

“With the specific steps put forward by the National Energy Administration (NEA) and the 5 GW already installed in the first quarter, 17.8 GW is a more achievable target this year. Omission of a specific installation target for distributed solar projects, which contributed to missing the 2014 goal, is a positive,” added Prabhu.

As mentioned, Mercom believes China, Japan, and the US will account for a significant portion of the global solar installation over 2015.

Specifically, Japan is expected to install approximately 10 GW this year, and the US is expected to install approximately 8.8 GW of solar in 2015, with the December 31, 2016 deadline for the Investment Tax Credit expiration driving a lot of installation. A report from IHS released earlier this month predicted that the US is expected to install more than 32 GW of utility-scale solar before the deadline.


As can be seen in the chart above, Germany’s solar installations continue to fall, while both the UK and India are making steady installation increases. Mercom expects the UK to have its best year for solar installations, with many developers attempting to beat the expiration of the Renewables Obligation Certificates for projects larger than 5 MW.

Last month, Mercom revised its India forecasts, now expecting the country to install 2.2 GW in 2015.

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  • JamesWimberley

    Some of the difference from th GTP prediction of 55 GW maybe accounted for by the continuing confusion over the 2014 baseline. GTM think this only grew by 2%.

    • Mike Shurtleff

      Yes, where are they getting that from?
      Graph above shows 38 GW to 45 GW for 2013 to 2014 respectively, or 18% growth in 2014. I have a couple of web links saying we reached closer to 48 GW in 2014.

      • JamesWimberley

        As the solar revolution proceeds the statistics will get steadily worse. When it was mainly FIT plants in Germany, the bureaucracy could produce highly accurate numbers every month. Ordnung muss sein. Residential in Nevada today? Not so much. Offgrid in Africa? You must be joking.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Maybe we have to treat offgrid and unreported behind the meter as “efficiency”.

          Stick with reported utility scale wind, solar, coal, NG, etc. percentages of measured production.

          Overall the most important statistic is how many MWh we produce with fossil fuels.

  • Ivor O’Connor

    Is Germany still on track with its energiewende program? From the graph above it looks like they have lost their way.

    • Marion Meads

      They are reaching saturation, and it is asymptotic, with growth experiencing logarithmic decay.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        Huh? You are talking like Greespan did when he would try to confuse the audience. “asymptotic”? What does that mean in this context? Logarithmic decay? Ok, sure, it kind of looks like it but it would be nice to understand economically why.

        • eject

          the feed in tariffs have been reduced to such a point that the only attractive form of building new PV is self consumption.
          That is why newly build PV arrays are a lot smaller and utility scale has now become the exception in Germany.

          The Energiewende is still on track tough (altough I think that is not fast enough). The focus is on wind turbines.
          Of course there are some NIMBYs, mainly against transmission lines from the coastal region into the south.

          • nakedChimp

            don’t forget, those transmission-NIMBYs are mostly in the south 😉

        • JamesWimberley

          Eject has it. The only major setback is in solar, and while 100 MW a month is small by Germany’s historical standards, i isn’t trivial. Wind (more friendly to utilities) and efficiency are doing well. Coal is down. Solar is likely to recover in the second half of this year, according to GTM, now that the solar utility auctions have started. There is still no serious policy to support electric mobility, unlike France and Norway. B+.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            There is still no serious policy to support electric mobility, unlike France and Norway. B+.

            What’s the “B+” for?
            They have that autobahn there that burns through a Tesla battery in probably an hour. No fun charging for 40 minutes and driving for 60 minutes. Maybe in 20 years when battery technology quadruples BEVs will be a serious option for Germans.

          • newnodm

            O.K. so the Tesla only meets the driving need of 99% of Germans. The 1% who regularly drive at high speed for long distances on the Autobahn will need ICE.
            Driving behavior on the Autobahn isn’t so different than some western highways in the U.S.
            Drivers above 81mph on the Autobahn can share liability in an accident that was not their fault, I believe.

          • Mike Shurtleff

            “The 1% who regularly drive at high speed for long distances on the Autobahn will need” an Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (EREV).
            Better mileage. ICEs are on the way out. Not apparent yet, but will be before 2020.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            When I lived there almost every weekend I’d drive somewhere. The standard slow speed would be 180. (Which is what I normally drove at.) The faster drivers were well over 200.

            I would not say I was in the 1%. Most people with a pulse like to do things over the weekend. Driving to the mountains was very popular.

          • Aku Ankka

            I think that this has been changed over the years, and will keep doing so. But as others have mentioned, it is quite ok to have some minority to keep driving ICEs — first things first. Current penetration is so low everywhere (except Norway) that just replacing most of urban commuter traffic would be great. And in a couple of years cumulative capacity improvements allow replacement of long(er)-distance traffic.

          • newnodm

            So current EV only works for 50% of Germans. That’s O.K. too. Everyone else can drive an i8 to the mountains.

          • heinbloed

            Most Germans use some sort of electric public transport as well.

            Next week I’ll take the train from Cologne to Frankfurt, it replaced some 10 years ago the Lufthansa connection.
            Moving with 270 km/h and a fresh tapped pint standing in the bar – which other transport system can offer this 🙂
            And no safety belt, crossing the mountains underneath ….

          • newnodm

            First the model S, then the hyperloop. Perhaps even chilled dark beer. This is the American plan for Europe.

          • JonathanMaddox

            I caught a Lufthansa-branded train from Frankfurt to Bonn (it was also going on to Köln) in 1991, so it’s more than ten years 🙂

          • nakedChimp

            On 3 way autobahns the right side is driving at max 130km/h (max for trucks).. then the middle lane usually goes around 160-170.. anything else goes on the left (unless elefants overtake each other or there is a jam of sorts).
            Those numbers are from my personal experience driving there on brandnew Autobahns in Thuringia ~ 2000-2008.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            That sounds right to me.

          • jeffhre

            Update? Every Tesla at high speed on the autobahn video I have seen shows drivers saying, “I hope this traffic clears up so that I can try this at over 200 KPH.”

            So IMO: for the 99% of Germans who don’t need it plus the nearly 1% who would like the speed but can’t use it until the wee hours of the morning.

          • jeffhre

            That rare 60 minutes at 220 KPH is still 220 km of driving!

          • eveee

            James – Thanks for clearing that up. Germany is on target and has decided to put more into wind and efficiency for now. These kinds of adjustments are expected as renewables reach higher penetration levels. At some point, storage and more dispatch able renewables might gain some traction. Right now, the emphasis is on fuel savings and costs. Efficiency is cheapest, so there is not much to argue against that.
            Solar won’t stop as costs plummet.

          • eveee

            James – Good point. I saw comments before where someone looked at overcapacity. As solar drops in price, overcapacity can be tolerated more economically. No reason to stop at peak solar matching mid summer demand.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Installed at $1/watt solar will drop to around 5 cents in the middle of the country, 4 cents in the sunnier parts. Onshore wind is already below 4 cents.

            Toss away 10% with overbuilding and the price rises to 4.4 to 5.6 cents/kWh. I expect we’ll do a significant amount of overbuilding (past what moveable load can soak up) before we start doing large scale storage.

        • eveee

          90% of the comments I see predicting saturation are idiotic. We are in a rapid growth phase globally, but in Germany, solar has reached relatively high levels. As those levels get higher, look for the mix to change, seeking the cheapest alternatives.
          There is some truth to the idea that solar is lowering daytime wholesale prices. In that sense, its growth depends on demand and possibly storage. Thats one reason wind is increasing compared to solar. Wind has just switched to higher capacity factor turbines and offshore. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to find Germany seeking a better mix, more dispatch able renewables, and transmission lines to other countries that have surpluses when Germany has deficits. Think Italy and Spain for solar (if their governments ever get their head out of it and lets solar grow). And Sweden, Norway for hydro.
          Look for real saturation when wind plus solar reaches over 50% electricity share. That time will shift to a later date when EV growth kicks up electrical demand past 2020. But the net effect will be a substantial lowering of CO2 emissions.

          • Larmion

            “Germany seeking a better mix, more dispatch able renewables, and
            transmission lines to other countries that have surpluses when Germany
            has deficits”

            The dispatachable part isn’t true, methinks. Installation of small scale biomass has effectively been halted (not unreasonable, given its extremely high cost) and Germany has never supported large scale solid biomass plants. Hydro isn’t growing, as virtually all potential outside environmentally sensitive areas is already tapped.

            That just leaves geothermal, but deployment of that is very small scale and mostly focused on district heating rather than power generation (due to the relatively low temperatures of Germany’s geothermal reservoirs).

            On the other hand, Norway and to a lesser extent Austria already act as giant batteries for Germany. They import excess German power and export hydro when needed.

          • eveee

            From todays perspective thats all true. You could be right about dispatch able renewables in the future. And Germany thinks within its borders. But when you add the transmission to connect to other countries and think beyond Germany, the perspective changes. Hydro will be coming from Nordic countries. The submarine cables are being laid all over the the North Sea.
            And CSP with storage counts, too. I look for that to happen is Spain and Italy. The situation is dynamic. I look at it like the situation today with base load and peakers. Peakers are worth a lot more per kwhr because of the market need. The same is true of dispatch able renewables. Right now there is no need. But when variable renewables reach high levels, both storage and dispatch able renewables will have more value. What most did not predict is that variable renewables could be integrated at high levels without storage or other costs. That means the day when storage and dispatchables are needed and economically favored is further in the future. Just read what experts are saying about the need for storage in Germany where renewables are at 28% now.
            So the odd thing is that storage is making inroads by replacing peakers at $250/kwhr rather than being needed for renewables just yet. An idea situation, since it leaves them quite well situated for renewables expansion to higher integration levels in the future.

          • JonathanMaddox

            A large fraction of German renewable electricity generation is biomass and biogas, which are technically dispatchable but are essentially never curtailed at times of low demand, they just run when available. Capacity factors aren’t all that high, but that’s not due to load-following dispatch, it’s due to limited fuel supply and to some technical limitations of the equipment. As more fossil-fuelled generation is displaced by and ultimately retired due to renewables, the ability to follow load with fossil generation alone will be compromised. At this stage biomass and biogas generation will increasingly be called upon for use as dispatchable, load-following capacity.

      • heinbloed

        Wrong, the PV saturation point would be at around 200 GW as Prof. Quaschning explains:

        His home page is mainly in German language:

        But some English articles can be found there as well:

    • Larmion

      Solar installations are low. The reform of the FiT system effectively ended utility scale solar and the replacement auction system only started this year (and is initially limited to a few 100MW). Residential PV is still added at a faster per capita pace than in the US, but are far below their peak a few years ago. This is, again, due to falling FiT.

      However, the Energiewende is still very much on track. Wind power installations reached a record high in 2014 and 2015 is due to rival it – in no small part due to Germany finally seriously getting into the offshore game. Along that, electricity consumption is declining rapidly (-4,8% in 2014).

      Follow the progress here:

      Make sure to tick ‘all sources’ rather than the default ‘conv. >100 MW).

      • eveee

        Larmion – Thanks. Heres another graph. Renewables vs target.

        At about 28% renewables and rising, its about on track with the graph.

        • heinbloed

          The 2020 target of 35% RE in the consumed electricity has been achieved now, check the link provided by Larmion.

          Two days ago I checked the numbers and calculated for the whole year of 2015 that 33.74 % of the produced power is already from RE sources. There are about 9.3% of net exports.

          Amazing what what had happened between 2012 and 2015 !

          On Friday the atomic power plant “Grafenrheinfeld” will close for good, that is 1 GW less then in the grid.

          • eveee

            heinbloed – Thanks. I suspected as much and gave the conservative figure. I think Germany was at that level in 2014. My explanation for the solar slowdown? Germany shifted to more wind and efficiency. Really, the officials decided there was no need to accelerate if they were meeting targets. I would prefer even more, but why complain if the targets are exceeded. No reason to claim Energiewende is falling behind. To the contrary, its ahead.

          • Larmion

            Saying that Energiewende is ahead is incorrect. Germany is well ahead in electricity (both due to falling demand and rapid renewable deployment), but is slightly behind its overall emissions reduction target.

            That’s because it made only token efforts to green heating and transport, collectively two far bigger emitters than electricity.

            When people talk about the Energiewende, they think of solar panels and wind turbines. But it takes much more than that.

          • eveee

            Good point. Most of the world is far behind in transport. Its time for EVs, for example. Germany is starting to have ground sourced heat pumps, but more is needed. Whatever happened to good old fashioned passive solar?
            Even well insulated homes, solar ready roofs, and ones that get close to net zero are welcome. We need much more developers making those.

    • heinbloed

      Wind power is doing exceptionally well at the moment, on-shore as well as off-shore:

      4.25 GW on-shore and 2 GW off-shore are expected to go online this year:

      (in German only)

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