Firm growth from China will help boost overall global PV demand for the 10th consecutive year, according to a recent report from IHS.
IHS Technology Senior Analyst Josefin Berg said Chinese feed-in tariff (FIT) cuts from last September have created higher-than-projected 4th quarter growth. Berg notes global capacity additions reaching 77 gigawatts (GW) in 2016 and 79 GW in 2017. The former is a projected 34% year-on-year growth rate in 2016, exceeding 2015’s 32% year-on-year growth rate.
The 2015 and 2016 growth were notable, as well, because the global solar PV market hadn’t grown by more than 30% two years in a row since 2010–2011, according to the IHS Technology PV Demand Market Tracker report.
IHS said 2017 solar PV growth would only reach 3% globally, however, due to declines in installations from the US and China, the world’s top solar markets. The report projects that 2017 & 2018 will see single digit advancement in demand, but 2019 will show the market roaring back to another strong growth percentage.
China has dropped its 2020 minimum goals for solar power to 110 GW (from 150 GW originally), IHS said. China’s change of plans shows an estimated downturn in additional 2018 Chinese installed capacity along with almost zero demand in the following couple of years.
However, this is still enough for China to beat its goals while reaching 169 GW of overall capacity by 2020, the report added. Additionally, China recently stated it is going to invest $361 billion into renewables by 2020 as it seeks to dominate this sector and beat the United States, and the country has cancelled plans for 104 coal power plants (120 GW combined capacity) not long after doing the same for 30 plants (17 GW worth).
“Until China officially publishes the FIT rates, and the timeframe for the reductions, the forecast for total installed capacity in 2017 and the quarterly distribution remain highly uncertain,” added Berg. In general, it seems that China has become a tough market to project — policies keep changing amidst clean energy becoming cheaper than fossil fuels and nuclear.
2017 will also see India leapfrog past Japan as the 3rd largest PV market, IHS predicts. India will install an estimated 10 GW this year. Japan is now 3rd with 8.7 GW in newly projected installations in 2016, while India is 4th with 5.8 GW.
Berg suggests India’s solar market is quickly blossoming and benefiting from reasonable global system costs.
India in recent years committed to increase its solar capacity to mitigate climate change concerns and bring cheap electricity to many more of the people living in India without it, while also protecting against blackouts. In July 2012, 670 million were affected from massive blackouts in the country, thanks to an outdated grid system that could not handle excessive demand from residents’ increasing use of electrical appliances and air conditioners. Chaos ensued, shutting down transit systems for many hours as citizens were forced to deal with extremely hot conditions.
With prices continuing to fall and making solar energy cost-competitive with fossil fuels, the solar market will continue to look good moving forward, but with ups and downs in growth as major policies change.