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Top 10 Global Solar Market Trends For 2019

The top 10 trends in the 2019 global solar market include a skyrocketing jump in projected 2019 installations of up to 103.8 gigawatts, according to a new outlook by market analyst Wood Mackenzie.

The top 10 trends in the 2019 global solar market include a skyrocketing jump in projected 2019 installations of up to 103.8 gigawatts, according to a new outlook by market analyst Wood Mackenzie.

GLOBAL SOLAR PV MARKETS: Top 10 Trends to Watch in 2019,” by Tom Heggarty, Senior Analyst, Power and Renewables, and Benjamin Attia, Analyst, Power and Renewables, makes a long and insightful list for solar advocates to consider this year.

While 2018 was marred by market uncertainties, “just a few weeks into 2019, there are positive signs for the global solar market. We’ve already seen policy clarity in China and Saudi Arabia, highly aggressive solar-plus-storage pricing in Hawaii, and more bold plans for some of the world’s largest single-site PV projects in India,” say the authors.

Among their observations are the following Top 10 Trends:

1) First off, we’re headed for a big installation milestone: “The global market will finally breach 100 GW in 2019, with Wood Mackenzie’s latest 2019 forecast topping at 103 GW. The global market continues to diversify. The top 20 largest global PV markets will account for 83% of new global demand to 2023, the fastest growing of which are concentrated in the Middle East and Mediterranean (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, and Italy).”

2) Solar is getting cheaper by the megawatt-hour. “We believe that ultra-low PV costs still have room to fall as low as $14/MWh under optimised assumptions, and the recent cratering of average bids in Egypt, Jordan, the UAE under US $30/MWh suggest 2019 is likely to see more pricing at a similar level.”

3) Policy evolution in leading markets is crucial. “The first few weeks of 2019 have already seen clarity on policies and targets relating to solar PV in both China and Saudi Arabia. Before these announcements, we forecasted that these will be the first and eighth largest installers of solar PV to 2023, so how these markets evolve is critical for the trajectory of global demand.”

4) The UK is likely to be the only country to join the subsidy-free club in 2019. “Spain, Portugal and Italy have been at the vanguard of subsidy-free utility-scale solar PV, with multiple gigawatts in the development pipeline. This year will see the first wave of those projects delivered. As costs continue to come down, 2019 is also set to be the year that the trend spreads beyond Southern Europe.”

5) Corporations are driving solar with 100% renewable goals.Corporate, non-utility entities looking for savings or to reach voluntary renewable energy targets. 56% of these corporate buyers are from the technology and data sectors. In Q3 2018, corporate procurement has seen the largest surge in market share of any utility-scale segment, growing from 13 to 15% of utility PV in development in a single quarter.”

6) Solar portfolio investment is up. “We tracked almost 21 GW of solar PV asset transactions globally in 2018, up 38% on the previous year…In the U.S., where 47% of all solar asset transactions took place in 2018, we expect to see an increase in activity with sponsors looking for early-stage, large-scale portfolios in advance of the ITC step-down.”

7) Solar+storage started the year with a “bang.” “Seven projects have been proposed in Hawaii that would add 262 MW of solar and over 1 GWh of storage at prices as low as $78/MWh. Wood Mackenzie currently estimates that 1.4 GWh of energy storage installed across the whole US and forecasts 8.8 GWh of front-of-the-meter solar-plus-storage capacity installed in the US by 2023, growing at an 82% CAGR starting in 2018 and led by California, Arizona, Colorado, and Hawaii.”

8) Leading module technology will drive prices lower. “In 2019 41% of global module manufacturing capacity will be dedicated to mono PERC production, up from 36% in 2018. This year will also be the first where we will see substantial installations of bi-facial modules. By the end of 2019, as global blended module prices fall below $0.25/Wdc, global average CAPEX will fall to US $0.95/Wdc.”

9) Mega projects may have topped out. “2019 is set to be a make-or-break year for the concept of tendering very large volumes of capacity through a single request for proposals (RFP). According to Wood Mackenzie’s Global Utility-Scale PV Project Tracker, there are over 63 GW of single-developer mega project capacity (500 MW+) in the global pipeline, 84% of which is comprised of projects in pre-construction phases.”

10) Oil and gas players are getting solar religion. “2019 should see further efforts by oil and gas companies to reduce their own emissions, with solar PV well-placed to capitalise. From large private utilities to battery manufacturers to EV charging infrastructure companies to rural solar home system companies in Sub-Saharan Africa, the most forward-thinking oil and gas Majors are moving into the electricity space.

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Written By

Charles specializes in renewable energy, from finance to technological processes. Among key areas of focus are bifacial panels and solar tracking. He has been active in the industry for over 25 years, living and working in locations ranging from Brazil to Papua New Guinea.


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