London-based market data company IHS Markit has predicted that strong demand in China will push global solar PV demand to another annual record of 113 gigawatts (GW) in 2018, and should even result in the fourth quarter yielding 34 GW of new PV installations, the largest quarter in history.
IHS Markit has been analyzing the global solar market for years now and we have been covering their analyses for much of that time — which have regularly matched up with other big-name analysts including Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), and MAKE Consulting. IHS Markit released its latest PV Installations Tracker last week, which predicted new installations will grow again by 19% in 2018 — right in line with the 20% growth we saw in 2017.
Strong growth and continued demand in the Chinese market will serve as the principal driver in 2018 and will push global solar PV demand to 113 GW in 2018 — up on the record 98.9 GW worth of new capacity installed in 2017. Specifically, IHS Markit expects China to install at least 53 GW worth of new solar PV capacity, with a potential for 60 GW. China installed 52.83 GW of new solar PV in 2017 and was primarily responsible for the year’s record total.
IHS Markit’s analysis explains that this year’s record will only be limited by module availability and that prices may limit investment return on solar PV projects already under contract to sell at low prices.
“This latest forecast is close to the global polysilicon limit manufacturers can supply,” said Edurne Zoco, research and analysis director for IHS Markit. “Tight supply and stable prices will continue throughout the year. Our forecast assumes manufacturers can further ramp up production, to meet demand, in the second half of the year.”
IHS Markit’s predicts fall in line with previous predictions made, though a little on the higher side. In January, Bloomberg New Energy Finance Chief Editor Angus McCrone predicted that 2018 will see 107 GW worth of new solar capacity, while EnergyTrend, a division of TrendForce, predicted that the global solar market would install 106 GW. It is possible that IHS Markit’s higher figure represents more recent information, or it is simply seeing a more optimistic solar market this year.
Continued high demand through 2018 will also keep module prices stable.
“Demand is not only picking up in China, but also in India, where developers want to secure modules before any additional tariffs are introduced,” Zoco continued. “The United States continues to import modules, despite the latest import tariffs. In emerging markets, countries like Egypt, Brazil and Mexico have large PV projects requiring modules in 2018. Several projects that were postponed in 2017, due to high module prices, will need to be installed this year.”
Looking beyond the impact of China, IHS Markit expects India to overtake the United States as the planet’s second-largest solar PV market. The US will suffer from President Donald Trump’s decision to impose a 30% tariff on imported solar cells and modules. Emerging markets such as Mexico and Egypt will both begin to account for a significant percentage of overall capacity, while the United Kingdom and South Korea will see their shares fall.