Global solar installation levels are expected to surpass original expectations for 2016 and fly in the face of a partial-global slowdown, reaching 76 GW for the year, up 48% over 2015, according to global clean energy consulting firm Mercom Capital Group.
After installing just over 51 GW in 2015 on the back of severael solid but ever-growing years, 2016 was a big jump, with installations increasing 48% and expected to reach 76 GW by the time the year ticks away. Many analysts predicted a less-impressive level of solar installations for 2016, with Mercom itself predicting in April that global solar installations would reach only 66.7 GW in 2016.
The strong 2016 is also expected to prompt a similarly strong 2017, with Mercom predicting solar installations in the range of 70 GW.
“Global solar demand will overshoot most forecasts made earlier this year due to an unprecedented level of activity in China,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO and Co-Founder of Mercom Capital Group. “Record installations in China followed by a slowdown resulted in an oversupply situation, which led to a module price crash. Low module prices are helping demand recovery going into 2017.”
China outstripped all competitors in 2016, and is expected to finish the year with a phenomenal 30 GW of new solar capacity installed during the year, off the back of a strong first half. China experienced record demand in the first half as developers rushed to complete projects before the country’s feed-in tariff (FiT) cuts set for June were enacted. Unsurprisingly, however, this was followed by a massive slowdown which in turn led to a module oversupply situation and crash in module prices. Solar companies around the world have been affected by the slowdown, causing a number of manufacturers and developers to experience unexpectedly slow third quarters.
The US is expected to have installed a relatively impressive 13 GW in 2016, keeping its installation growth relatively flat. Thankfully, according to Mercom, despite the surprise election of Donald Trump as the next US President, “the threat to the federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is expected to be minimal.”
Japan and India are expected to follow as the third and fourth largest solar markets in 2016 respectively, with 10.5 GW and 4.2 GW. However, Mercom suggests that India has a chance to move up to third spot in 2017 based on the country’s current pipeline of solar projects, and Japan is expected to peak in 2016.
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